Improving police-community relations through sports
Niagara Falls, NY – June 23rd
After a year-long hiatus caused by the pandemic and the civil unrest in 2020, we are so excited to bring Bridge The Gap (BTG) Sports back to parks and street corners across WNY this summer.
On June 23rd, Victory Sports was joined at a BTG Sports press conference launch by Niagara Falls Mayor, Robert Restaino, Niagara County Sheriff Filicetti, officers from Lockport, Newfane, Town of Niagara, Niagara Falls and others from across the county, representatives from the Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda Peacemakers, and several local news networks.
The Mayor of the city of Niagara Falls kicked things off by discussing plans for sports and recreation in his city this summer, with our BTG Sports program and Ball-Bins featuring heavily. Sheriff Fillicetti then took to the mic to thank Victory Sports for donating a duffel bag containing a soccer ball, basketball and football to every single patrol vehicle in the county – approximately 75 bags. In addition, Peacemakers groups from North Tonawanda, Lockport and Niagara Falls will receive bags to use in their own community outreach programs.
Our own Founder and Executive Director, Doug Rifenburg, then explained the original thinking behind the program and the objective in distributing sports equipment to police officers for them to interact with local kids. Simply put, police officers rarely have the opportunity for positive interaction with kids in the community they serve. We all know police community relations are strained, particularly in communities of color. Throwing a ball around or shooting some hoops is a means of interacting with each other on a positive note, through a shared loved for sports.
As it happens, we were delighted to have an example of BTG Sports in action at one end of the basketball court while the press conference was taking place at the other, with 2 youngsters enjoying some basketball action with several police officers. Check out the photos above!
If you are able to help us expand the program and keep replenishing the sports equipment the officers are encouraged to give away to kids they play with, please consider making a monthly or one-time donation. Thank you so much!