GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Police departments from a pair of coast cities used fun and a little sweat on Thursday to build stronger relations with young people.
At first glance, it looked like a normal high school basketball game with local communities competing against each other, but this one was designed to bring communities together. Students from Gulfport and D'Iberville teamed up with police officers from their cities.
"Instead of seeing them interacting in such a dangerous way, you see them interacting like a family," said D'Iberville senior Ben Huffman.
After seeing numerous deadly incidents around the country involving police, a group of Gulfport students came up with the idea for the game. Appropriately, the students called their team "Solution."
"People at our school, they don't want to be around police, because they think they're going to be killed or shot," said Gulfport junior Karlos Dillard. "This helps us make the police look like regular human beings, and it brings us closer."
This is the second time Gulfport police have taken the court with students, and it didn't take long for police to start seeing the results.
"Immediately following the last game, these students were contacting us for advice, to get a ride, or help with homework," said Gulfport police Sgt. Joshua Bromen. "We're talking eight, nine, 10 o'clock at night text messaging saying, 'I'm having problems.' That's exactly what we wanted."
Now, the hope for Gulfport and D'Iberville police is to get even more people involved.
"I ask everybody on the Gulf Coast if you have a police department or high school to contact us," said D'Iberville High School Recourse Officer Steven Ramsey. "Let's make this thing as big as we want it to be."
Gulfport claimed a 58-34 victory, and plans are already in the works to do another one of these games next month.