KCK officer starts sports program to help build community relationships

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Police patrol cars are equipped with a lot of things that help officers do their job, but officers in KCK are throwing something else in the backseat: basketballs.

It’s part of a brand new program, and officers in KCK hope it helps them get to know their community. It all started eight years ago, when Officer Anthony Lee stopped during his patrol to play basketball with Tearon Batie.

“We have free throw competition, every time he comes, he always brags. We have fun, he's a real good man,” Batie said.

It’s become a tradition with the now high school sophomore, but recently their free throw competitions got Officer Lee thinking.

“A couple months ago I saw kids just sitting around idle. I said if I had a ball, a football, soccer ball, I could actually get out and initiate that playing time with them,” Lee said.

“I said you know what that's a great idea, I said we should do something like that,” Jim Woods said.

Woods owns Varsity Sports and is a longtime friend of Officer Lee’s. He quickly jumped on board. Teaming up with Champ Pro Sports, the KCK police department was given 160 balls. Now dozens of patrol cars will have four balls each, and anytime officers see kids sitting around, they’ll start a game.

“Sports is something everyone can relate to,” Lee said.

But for Officer Lee, it’s more than a game. It’s building lifelong friendships and helping kids like Tearon not only make their free throws, but make their dreams reality.

“I'm very thankful. We need more officers like that. That help us and want to interact with us more,” Batie said.

Officers are calling the program C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. They hope it not only builds a close relationship with people in KCK, but future residents too.