Suffolk Police Dept. hosts basketball tournament in effort to keep at-risk teens away from gang violence
A dozen Wyandanch teenagers spent Friday practicing their basketball skills, learning the importance of being involved in extracurricular activities and staying away from gang violence.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison showed some at-risk teenagers a few pointers on the court while also highlighting the importance of finding sports or other hobbies to stay away from crime.
Harrison partnered with basketball trainer Jerry Powell to practice drills.
Before the warmup, Harrison gave a pep talk saying, "I don't need you shooting a gun, I need you shooting a basket."
"They get to see the human side of enforcement," Harrison says. "Me just being out here playing basketball with them, but yet at the same time using this platform to talk about the concerns that they can come across is a great way of guidance, mentoring."
Shenee Johnson, of Moriches, lost his 17-year-old son to gun violence nearly 13 years ago.
He says he would rather the youth be enjoying "good, clean fun" on a Friday rather than getting into trouble.
"We couldn't save my son, but going forward we could save so many people, so many young people and to me - to save one life, is like saving a generation," Johnson says.
The Suffolk County Police Department used one of its community ambassadors to select the teens who took part.
The police department plans to hold several similar events in other towns across Suffolk County.