New York State In-depth

The Suffolk Police Dept. hosts a basketball tournament to keep at-risk teenagers away from gang violence

Jan 21, 2023 3:26 amUpdated 5h ago

From: News 12 employees

A dozen Wyandanch teens spent Friday practicing their basketball skills and learning the importance of getting involved in after-school activities and staying away from gang violence.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison showed some on-court clues to some at-risk teenagers while emphasizing the importance of finding sports or other hobbies to stay away from crime.

Harrison worked with basketball coach Jerry Powell to practice drills.

Before warming up, Harrison gave a pep talk, saying, “I don’t need you to shoot a gun, I need you to shoot a basket.”

“You get to see the human side of enforcement,” says Harrison. “I’m just out here to play basketball with them, but at the same time using this platform to talk about the concerns they may encounter is a great way of mentoring.”

Shenee Johnson of Moriches lost his 17-year-old son to gun violence almost 13 years ago.

He says he’d rather the youth have “good, clean fun” on a Friday than get in trouble.

“We couldn’t save my son, but in the future we could save so many people, so many young people and for me – saving a life is like saving a generation,” Johnson said.

The Suffolk County Police Department used one of their community ambassadors to select the teens to take part.

Police plan to hold several similar events in other Suffolk County towns.

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