DENVER -- Officers with the Denver Police Department and kids who live in or near one of the five areas Denver identified as a "crime hotspot" came together Saturday morning to play basketball and for an opportunity to connect in a positive setting.
"We're really trying to build that bridge, right?" said Denver Police Officer Latrisha Guss. "We're trying to mend that gap between, you know, just the community and police officers, as a whole."
More than 80 kids took part in DPD's Hoop 4 Safety Basketball Clinic.
"A lot of these kids come from underserved neighborhoods," said Officer Guss.
Among the kids who took part was 12-year-old Princess Hillburn. She'd met some of the Denver officers before, but was excited to meet and interact with even more on Saturday.
"I saw a couple of the Denver police officers dunk. They were shooting good basketball," she said.
Officer Guss told Denver7 if there was one thing she hoped the children took away from the basketball clinic, it was that they could trust the officers.
"I truly want them to know that we're here for them, so they don't need to be afraid of us. They don't need to be scared when they see me come in. I want them to know when they see me, you know, 'Oh hey, that's Officer Guss. Let me go say hi. Give her a hug,'" she said.
The basketball clinic was also a kickoff for a new mentoring program. Agencies throughout Denver's Public Safety realm will be able to mentor a child in the Denver community.