Buffalo Police are working to reach kids early.
As part of its neighborhood engagement program, officers spend three days a week playing with kids. Literally.
Lieutenant Craig Macy is one of those officers.
“There’s a lot of potential there, we’re doing a lot of things in the community,” said Macy.
“A lot of non-traditional policing - we’re still doing active police work after.”
The neighborhood engagement team is the brainchild of Commissioner Byron Lockwood and Mayor Byron Brown. All of the officers volunteered for 100 days stints to spend time knee-deep in communities.
“One of the main areas that we’ve been working in is Genessee and Goodyear,” said Lockwood.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday officers are helping to hold free clinics in different areas of Buffalo’s East Side.
“I want young kids to see that officer are their friends. They’re not the enemy or the bad guy, but their friend.
I just don’t want kids to be afraid of officers in this time and age. “
Lieutenant Macy says that while the soccer clinics are aimed at reaching and connecting with youth early, the program has brought in some other positive response.
“The police officers are meeting parents, which, we drive by houses now and we can stop and talk to people.”
Macy says that as neighbors get more comfortable with police they’re able to approach officers with valuable tips, and that intel has led to arrest for police.
“Once we start doing things like this, we’re getting information that we haven’t gotten before from the networks that have been built, the friendships that are made,” he said.
This program is only able to be a reality through neighborhood partners with police like Victory Sports Global Outreach.
The company goes around providing free sports equipment to kids that otherwise wouldn’t have it.
“In many cases, kids want to sample a sport. It might be soccer, it might be hockey, or lacrosse, they just don’t have the equipment to do it,” said owner Doug Rifenburg.
His company makes sure the financial barriers are no longer a factor in neighborhoods.
Victory Sports operates through grants and partnerships, but is always looking for donations of equipment in order to reach more neighborhoods and be community partners.
You can find more information on how to help or become a sponsor here.