Police and youth basketball tournament in the Throggs Neck Houses

Police, community youth, local leaders and officials came together to build better relations between law enforcement and youth in the Throggs Neck Houses.

The first annual Throggs Neck Houses Basketball Tournament, also called the Pulse Tournament, was held on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2 in Ferry Point Park with youth from the New York City Housing Development and police playing together on teams in a two-day basketball extravaganza that ended in a large celebration of unity and an awards ceremony.

The effort in coordinating the event included Senator Jeff Klein, Throggs Neck Houses Resident’s Council and its president Monique Johnson, New York City Housing Authority, 45th Precinct, the Police Service Area 8 precinct of the NYPD Housing Bureau and the NYPD’s Transit Division.

Participating in the event were youth from Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club.

“By working together to transform police-community relations from the ground up, we are making a lasting investment in the Bronx that will transform our communities and lift up future generations,” said Senator Klein, who added he was proud to co-host the tournament. “This year’s event was a slam dunk — bringing together local residents and encouraging people of all ages to get out and have some fun.”

Johnson confirmed that younger residents in the development don’t always view the police in the most favorable light, and said that two previous efforts to hold a town hall meeting between the police and youth did not work when they could not draw enough youth.

This event, however, she said, was a resounding success.

Johnson added that the she believes the basketball tournament, which included 16 teams, figuratively broke down barriers between the two groups.

“By hosting our first ever Throggs Neck Houses Basketball Tournament, we are encouraging local residents and their families to get involved and make a difference right here at home,” said Johnson, adding that help from Klein’s office was key in making the event possible.

“The simple fact is, a unified community creates a stronger community, and a loving community,” she added.

One of the participants in the tournament, Kaheem Allen, 17, a most valuable player winner, said that he thought the competition was a good experience for many of the players in part because many of his peers don’t have the opportunity to play five-on-five basketball.

Allen added that he thought he saw more of the police officers’ humanity because of the experience.

“I saw them as basketball players and that is how I saw everyone who stepped on the court,” said Allen, who added that he and his brother also attended Nike Basketball Camp thanks to funding from Senator Klein’s office.

In a statement, 45th Precinct Community Affairs officer John Souhrada said that developing trust between the police and the community does not happen overnight, but he indicated that events like the tournament could help.

“Community events like the Throggs Neck Houses Basketball Tournament are a great way to bridge the gap and encourage local residents to collaborate with law enforcement and work together towards shared goals,” stated Souhrada.

Sinclair Hollingsworth, Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club director, thanked Senator Klein “for continuing to invest in the community.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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