By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In an effort to bridge the divide between police officers and the community they serve, Philadelphia’s finest have put together a basketball tournament for kids in the neighborhood — hoping to spark new friendships.

Philadelphia police officer Brian Graves grew up in the city and spent much of his time on the court

READ MORE: Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid Resigns After He Reportedly Made Anti-Semitic Remarks, Verbally Abused His Staff

“A common denominator with kids is through basketball,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

A 20-year-veteran of the force, he created Lace Up, Speak Up — a basketball tournament encouraging kids to connect one-on-one with cops.

READ MORE: Water Main Break Flooding Multiple Buildings In Society Hill Section, Officials Say

“Anytime we have a connection to the youth is like, stopping them and talking to them,” he says. “Now that we get them on the basketball court, we in shorts and sneakers, just like them, now they can relate to us a little different.”

He says the event is designed start a conversation:

“Whatever district we go in, I try to have the officers in that district, because they are going to be the one who see those kids on the street.

MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Union Miss Out On Eastern Conference Championship Amid COVID Crisis

The game is scheduled for Saturday at Cobbs Creek Rec Center.