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Monday, Aug 20, 2018
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Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

ST. PETERSBURG — Teamwork wins games, they say. And basketball can bridge gaps.

That’s what makes the Facebook video of three St. Petersburg police officers playing a game of pickup in the street against three kids so compelling. The officers, who were not named, took on the kids after they dealt with a domestic disturbance in the neighborhood.

The department thanked Carole Kimpson Alexander for recording the scene on Facebook and uploading it to the site on Saturday, then tagging the police department. The St. Petersburg Police Department posted a clip from Alexander’s video on Tuesday.

In it, the kids, who look to be in their early teens, trade buckets with the officers on a hoop overhanging the street and held down by tires. The kids sunk the final shot after the officers turned the ball over.

Afterward, all six traded high fives.

Commenters praised the officers — and the kids for winning.

"In some neighborhoods, the only time (kids) would see an officer is when something bad happened," said police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez. "That was the image people had: an officer coming in to make an arrest and leaving."

Interactions like the one in the video can show kids that officers can be cool, and that "there’s a human behind the uniform," she said.

"Slowly but surely you start to build trust," Fernandez said.

Videos of officers playing basketball all over the country have gone viral, including one in which NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal played a pickup game with a group of Gainesville teenagers. The videos offer a counterbalance to recent stories of clashes and tension between police and black residents.

Fernandez said the trust that officers build in the community goes both ways. They get better tips and information when they develop personal relationships with residents.

Contact Josh Solomon at [email protected] Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

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