When community policing makes its way to the (basketball) court | KOB 4
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When community policing makes its way to the (basketball) court

Erica Zucco
July 20, 2018 10:38 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An act of kindness in a Duke City neighborhood exemplified a small part of a comprehensive plan by the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department to increase community policing.

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A KOB Eyewitness News 4 viewer called KOB to share something she saw in front of her home that she thought deserved a little attention. A young boy had been playing basketball by himself, and two APD officers spontaneously decided to join him.

Damaya Cantu planned to play basketball solo at Guadalupe Park near Broadway and Avenida Cesar Chavez.

“I thought I was going to just shoot a couple times and then go back,” Cantu said.

But when Sgt. Nick Wheeler and Officer David White rolled by, they decided to join in on the game.

“They were walking over here and I was like, 'Hmm,' I was like, 'I wonder what happened, am I in trouble?'” Cantu laughed. “But I'm fine, I didn't do anything!”

Wheeler said they were leaving a community meeting nearby when they saw Cantu shooting hoops alone and decided to join.

“We were trying to do alley-oops and assists and things like that and then we went back to our HORSE game,” Cantu said.

APD says while this was just an act of kindness – not a department-driven directive – new policies do prioritize quality time in neighborhoods.

“Bringing back mini-substations,” said APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina. “Bicycle patrols. Getting our officers out in the community so they get to know the community and our officers start creating individual bonds with the citizens of Albuquerque so they know who their beat officer is."

APD says it’s forming partnerships with schools, businesses and churches to prevent crime and build relationships, like the one Wheeler and White formed with Cantu.

“Cops coming and hanging out with me—it's communication,” Cantu said.

APD says four recent city initiatives that could help with this kind of work include putting $1 million toward youth programs, implementing better coordination on mental health programs, hiring a new deputy director to address homelessness and beginning efforts to clean up needles in parks and public spaces.

Credits

Erica Zucco

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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