Omaha law enforcement connect with youth through sports

August 12, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some Omaha-area police and fire agencies are using sports to connect with local youth.

Omaha police officers recently replaced a tattered basketball net and handed out balls to neighborhood youth as part of Operation NETS, or Neighborhood Engagement Through Sports. It’s a collaborative effort for law enforcement agencies to meet local youth and build trust by delivering new sports equipment.

“It’s not all about just giving them a new basketball,” said Capt. Wayne Hudson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s interacting with the kids, building that relationship so that if they see us later on, if they have a problem, they feel more comfortable approaching us.”

The sheriff’s office participates in joint effort with the Omaha Police Department, Omaha Fire Department, La Vista Police Department and a group called Coalition RX.

Residents can find boxes to donate sports equipment at multiple precincts, stations and offices run by the agencies. Officials will pass them out on patrol or to comfort someone during an investigation.

Resident Monique Davis-Dryver said she’s grateful for the bond formed between the officers and her children.

“I want them to grow up knowing there’s good people out there,” said Davis-Dryver. “I think it’s good for the kids to know the officers. They’re regular people like us.”

Her 10-year-old son, Jaden Mays, said he’s still getting used to the new hoop in the neighborhood.

″(The officers) really helped me,” Mays said. “They’re nice because they give us stuff that we needed.”

Deputy Omaha Police Chief Ken Kanger said local youth need to understand law enforcement’s role in the community.

He said the program “is a great way to develop those relationships.”