Gladstone cop shooting hoops with residents to build connections, trust

GLADSTONE, Mo. -- One Gladstone police officer is aiming high to score points with neighbors one basketball game at a time.

Officer Blair Parker plays pick-up basketball with them to build connections, even in the metro's recent hot weather.

"I think it's important so that we look humanized," Parker said. "I think a lot of times we put the vest on, we put the gun on and people kind of get the misconception that we're militaristic."

For about a year, Parker has been dribbling up and down the court in full uniform at Happy Rock Park.

It’s his contribution to the Gladstone Police Department’s community policing efforts, which included events like "Shop With a Cop."

Parker said learning about the people he serves and protects can help build trust and motivate people to reach out when they need it most.

"It kind of creates this relationship that we have outside so you can say, 'Hey, what's going on?' So you see them at the QuickTrip or other places you're at," Parker said. "I think it helps to have that good rapport with others, so we've not always getting called to places just for the bad things."