In a day and age where a war is being waged on our brave police officers, it is great to see something positive like this. Four police officers [LAPD] are taking time out of their schedules to coach LA youth in football.
Watts is a neighborhood is southern LA. The anti-police riots that occurred in the 1960’s still have an effect on LA police and LA residents [ESPECIALLY, on the LA youth].
While the Watts Bears football team practices, they not only get prepared for their opponents but they also slowly gain trust in Los Angeles police — and the Los Angeles police officers gain trust in them.
“To try to change that and change the community you have to get your hands dirty and working with kids who are 9 to 12 so that when they’re 15, 16, 17, 18 that relationship that they have with law enforcement is completely different.”-Officer James Holliman [Watts Bears football coach]
The Watts Bears football team has four coaches and they are four police officers. The primary goal of the coaches / police officers is to keep the young children on the football turf and off of the streets!
The police officers [coaches] don’t only try to enhance the young kids’ football skills, but they also take it upon themselves to PERSONALLY mentor the kids.
“Rather than just arresting and moving on to the next problem, we’re preventing a problem before it even starts.”-Officer Greg Goosby [Watts Bears football coach]
Officer Goosby also said that many of the kids do not have a father figure in their lives so they try to fill that void.
SADLY, many of the kids had a negative view on police … But AWESOMELY, their view has transformed about police and they now trust police more and they realize that the majority of police officers are caring people.
“They’re like another dad. They’re like more parents for us. They give us good advice.”-Jahiem Gillett [Watts Bears player]
Gillett’s teammate also shared his thoughts,
“I didn’t like the police, I didn’t want to have nothing to do with them. My coaches fixed my life because before I started playing for them I was basically on the wrong track, just doing bad stuff and now it’s just getting my grades better and being more respectful to my mom. All cops are not bad and you should just respect the police and they’ll give you respect back.“-Quan’nell McKissic
The last sentence of McKissic’s statement is a really powerful message. It’s amazing to see that a young kid did not trust the police at all AND NOW realizes that if you show respect, you will most likely get respect back.
One of the players’ mothers had a positive statement about the entire Watts football program:
“The fact is they [the young kids on the football team] really look up to their coaches and they want to be like them when they get older.”-Kenya Brooks [mother of Watts Bears football player]
Since the Watts Bears football program began back in 2011, the homicide rate has dropped by a staggering 50%! Also, more evidence which points to the Watts football program having an amazingly positive impact is the fact that this year, violent crime has dropped in Watts [despite violent crime rising everywhere else in Los Angeles].
The officers are so involved in the young players’ lives that they even go to parent-teacher conferences for them. The trust has truly been strengthened between the players and the LA police due to the four LA police officers taking on the task of being football coaches.
“Football is the carrot, but we’re really using that to mentor and be a focal point in these kids’ lives where we’re helping them do better things in their lives.”-Officer James Holliman [Watts Bears football coach]
In my opinion, it would be an awesome thing to see more programs like this pop up in inner-cities across America. If it has dropped the violent crime rate and homicide rate in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, then I do not see why it would not work anywhere else! Tell me your thoughts about this story!
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