Kids, Cops and Hoops offers opportunity to play with police
Since 2010, Avon Police officers have laced up sneakers to shoot hoops with children within the community. Still meeting every Tuesday, Avon Police Department’s Kids, Cops and Hoops program is seeking more youth in fourth grade and up to play along.
From Nov. 29 to April 18, at 4:30 p.m. students are welcomed into the Avon Elementary School gymnasium for an hour of basketball with the cops.
Avon Police Officer Bradley Stamp runs Kids, Cops and Hoops. Before he was in charge of the program and before he was an Avon Police Officer, Stamp volunteered with Kids, Cops and Hoops. While he was motivated to volunteer because of his interest in basketball, Stamp said Kids, Cops and Hoops was also a great avenue for him to get to know Avon Police Department officers and staff before he got his job there.
In the past, the Kids, Cops and Hoops program engaged nearly 20 kids at a time. However, Stamp said this time around, the program has only seen two or three participants each week.
“I still feel it’s totally worthwhile,” Stamp said. “Those two or three that I get to know, I actually spend one-on-one time with them.”
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Stamp said the relationships he builds while playing basketball with local children are meaningful to him. Additionally, he said he hopes the value of the program is just as great for the kids involved.
“I show them respect that sometimes maybe they don’t get at home,” Stamp said. “I almost take on a role—I feel like a second parent or an uncle.”
Should children need a space to feel supported, share feelings and just have fun, Stamp explained that Kids, Cops and Hoops is a great place for them.
“[Children] definitely need more mentors to look up to and adults to treat them with respect,” Stamp said. “I enjoy that role, to be a mentor.”
Despite being well into this year’s program, the Avon Police Department is spreading the word about Kids, Cops and Hoops, hoping to extend that supportive handout further into the community.
Kids, Cops and Hoops also aims to foster relationships between law enforcement and the community—not just kids. The program offers a way for parents and their kids to interact with officers outside of a typical on-duty setting.
“The parents of the kids that are in the program realize that we’re not out there just pulling people over and busting them for having no license or something,” Stamp said. “We do fun things and good things too.”
While Stamp wears fitness attire running Kids, Cops and Hoops, he said it’s always good for the children to see officers in uniform when they stop by to visit on duty.
“I’m in like shorts, and I remember last year, (the kids said) ‘Are you really an officer?’” Stamp said.
Though, out and about in the community, youth are able to say hello to officers with whom they’ve built relationships within the program. Additionally, Stamp said he enjoys catching up with youth who were previously in the program, explaining that he’s proud of what many of them have done within the community.
“Carlos goes to Vail Christian High School and is like one of their star football players, basketball players and everything,” Stamp said. “He’s such a good kid, and last year, when his varsity basketball season ended, he came over to volunteer.”
Stamp said it’s “pretty cool” to see participants come back and help mentor the next generation in a fun environment.
And Stamp isn’t the only one who is proud of the kids in the program, he said it’s also great to see how proud parents are that their children are getting involved with Kids, Cops and Hoops.
“They’re just beaming with smiles that their kids are doing something different after school besides playing video games or getting in trouble,” Stamp said.