By Sean Mahoney
There has been tension between police officers and citizens recently. Police relations with citizens have become a focal point in the College Park community. The College Park Dream Team addresses these concerns.
The CP Dream Team includes officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department, College Park Police Department, and Maryland Park Police Department among other departments. The team focuses on fundraisers in the College Park area to increase engagement of police officers in the community.
“You only get out of the community what you put in,” said David Mitchell, Chief of the University of Maryland Police Department. Mitchell relayed the idea of the Dream Team annual basketball games five years ago to Gloria Blackwell, founding director of the UMD Office of Community Engagement.
“I thought sports are a great way to link police officers with the community and that seed grew from there,” Mitchell said.
The basketball game puts police officers on the same team as community members. Half of each team is made up of officers and the other half is made up of community members. The community members include children as young as eight and teenagers as old as 19.There is a dinner for all participants afterwards, a raffle for prizes and a halftime performance by local community members.
“This game brings the police to them [community members] and creates a fun night playing basketball and a wholesome place to spend the evening,” said Sarah D’Alexander, UMD Community Engagement Coordinator.
D’Alexander was at the first basketball game of the year Friday at the College Park Community Center. D’Alexander was head of the raffle station, collecting tickets and giving out prizes to families and others who attended.
The game was well contested to the last second as the guest team barely came away with a two point win. After the game there was a musical performance by local community members which included covers of “Hello” by Adele, “I’ll Find You” by Lecrae, and a homemade step performance.
The Dream Team holds other fundraisers throughout the year at places like Ledo Pizza.
The next basketball game will be on Friday, Nov. 3 at the College Park Community Center.