By Justin Udo and David Spunt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police and residents in Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood got together to play some basketball in an effort to help build community relations.READ MORE: Family, Friends Celebrate World War II Veteran's Birthday In Burlington County
Over 100 students and police officers packed into the James Wright Recreation Center Monday night to play basketball and talk about life. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations helped organize the event.
Before they took to the court Monday evening, police took time to talk and get to know people in the community where they serve.
Maurice Boatwright who lives in Mantua, says this event is much needed.
“I think in order for the community to work, you need the police to be active with the neighborhood. My opinion I think it’s great. We just need to do more of it,” said Boatwright.
Officer Brian Graves helped organize the games.
He says it’s important that people in the community see them as friends and not enemies.
“My goal is to bridge the gap between the community and police. I just want to bring everyone together to see their concerns and see what we can do together as one,” said Officer Graves.READ MORE: Neighbors In Northern Liberties Wrap Up Weekend-Long Sidewalk Sale Sunday
“They (police officers) seem like cool people,” Zack Treadwell told Eyewitness News.
Treadwell is in 8th grade and is getting ready for his summer vacation. He said the basketball court is his second home, and playing police officers was something new and exciting for him.
“We’re here to help. Anybody that has issues, we don’t mind listening to you,” Officer Tyrone Bacon told Eyewitness News.
Bacon joined other police officers to play. The Philadelphia Youth Commission also helped organize the event. Zack Treadwell told Eyewitness News he hopes to participate in more police basketball games.
“They like the community,” Treadwell said.
Many of the teens who participated say the experience helped improve their opinion of police in their neighborhood.
Officials say they plan on doing more events like this all over the city.
For more on the Philadelphia Youth Commission, click here.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police: 17-Year-Old Girl Injured In Kensington Double Shooting