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      Summer hoops league hopes to build relationships in communities

      By Gregory Woodsgwoods@abcnews4.com

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The North Charleston Police Department has come up with a new program to help build relationships with area teens -- a new summer basketball league coached by cops.

      The program is called Cops Athletic Program. One basket at a time, the police plan to strengthen community relationships coaching nine teams of 12-to-14 year olds.

      "That's kind of a group that has trust issues with the police," said Capt. Ken Hagge with the police department. "If we can get those kids playing for a police officer and they see that the officer is just like everybody else, there won't be an us and them mentality."

      The program starts in July and ends at the end of August. Officers hope through basketball, they can help keep kids off the streets during the summer.

      "Programs like these helps us to lead and guide and to direct young people into another avenue instead of the avenue some of them are taking right now," said Assistant Chief Reggie Burgess. "One-on-one time with the kids will help us break down barriers and get to know them on a more personal level."

      The teams are spread out throughout nine neighborhoods in North Charleston: Charleston Farms, Accabee, Union Heights, Liberty Hill, Russelldale, Ferndale, Dorchester Terrace/Waylyn, Chiora and 10 Mile.

      People who live in those areas say they are excited police will be helping kids become more productive during the summer.

      "There's a bunch of children in the neighborhood that don't have anywhere to go or anything to do and they can't afford to get into sports. So I think this will be a wonderful impact on them," said Charlynne Smith, who lives in the Ferndale community.

      The North Charleston Police Department has raised funds to foot the bill and is still accepting donations.

      To sign a teen up for the program, or to donate, just call the North Charleston Police Department.

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