By David Madden

By David Madden 

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — Building better relations between police and the communities they serve can take a number of different paths. In Camden, they’ve been trying a mix of fun and food.

Two block parties are set this afternoon, part of an ongoing effort to bridge the gap.

How’s a little pickup basketball paired with a barbecue sound? Pretty good, right?

That’s the whole idea behind these weekend sessions that Camden County Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson’s been holding for the last few weekends.

“Interacting with our youth in manners and ways that are not related to enforcement, or they’re not related to 9-1-1 calls for service in moments of crisis, is key to kids getting to know the cops and the cops getting to know the kids.”

(credit: Camden County Police Metro Division)

(credit: Camden County Police Metro Division)

And it seems to be working on adults as well, at least when it comes to that all important trust factor. But who pays for all of this?

Thomson says they get a lot of donations, but they also use some cash seized from the criminal element in drug forfeitures.

Is it working? Only time will tell. But at least they’re getting to know each other better and Thomson sees that as an important first step.

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