BRONX (WABC) -- Building better ties with the community is a top priority among many police departments across the country.
The NYPD took their latest effort to the basketball courts in the Bronx.
Beyond neighborhood boundaries and police badges, is a common love for the game that's bridging the gap in the Bronx.
"It's a nice connection because we see each other as people and not just us occupying the street being enforcers," said Inspector Ruel Stephenson, Commanding Officer 47th Precinct NYPD.
"They show that they care about us," a participant said.
Tipping off the second annual "Shoot Hoops Not Youth Tournament", members of the 47th precinct are trading in their uniforms for jerseys and using X's and O's to build new relationships and cut crime.
"We humanize the men and women in uniform when the community can interact with them out of that enforcement mode or while they're in uniform," Insp. Stephenson said.
"Since now they have a chance to play with them they get to know them better because basketball brings people together," said Malachi McNamee, a participant.
"It gives the kids something to do, it gives them ideas that they could go further in life, they could go further in school, it uplifts them," said Officer Joseph Alcoser, 47th Precinct NYPD.
On the court there is no us vs them, it's about teamwork and seeing one another through a different lens, especially with tensions between police and many of the communities they serve at an all-time high.
"When you bring people like this together it makes them forget about the bad stuff other cops are doing and showing the nice things these cops do right here," said Reverend Que English, Bronx Clergy Criminal Justice Roundtable. "We're building because we don't want another child lost, we don't want another officer lost, for us it's about everyone being included in this unity building."
The games will rotate to different courts throughout the Bronx all summer with the best teams facing off against the police for bragging rights.
"It means a lot to us because we don't really get known, acknowledged, and we just like to play ball, so when they come help out we have fun, it keeps us out of trouble," said Kaysean Taylor, a participant.
NYPD, Bronx community takes part in 'Shoot Hoops Not Youth Tournament'
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