By Michelle Richardson
Arts and Entertainment Writer
Today, the relationship between first responders, mainly the police, and the community isn’t the best, given the many racial injustices between Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement.
However, the Baltimore area first responders are hoping to change that relationship, one basketball game at a time!
The Public Safety Basketball League, now in its second year, was created by Baltimore City Police Homicide Detective Tavon McCoy, who also coaches the boys junior varsity basketball team at Coppin Academy. The games are held every Sunday at New Era Academy in South Baltimore.
“This is the neighborhood I grew up in. We took a year or so off, so we’re starting it back up just to bring some camaraderie, relieve some stress, just get guys together you know? We all work together. We’re in the same field,” McCoy said.
The basketball league consists of personnel from MTA, Baltimore City and County, Baltimore County Fire Department and Maryland State Troopers.
“I use this league as a way to relieve stress. It’s a brotherhood [that] brings my people together,” said MTA Police Officer Justin Hamilton.
Another MTA Police Officer, Rashad Browder, participated because he likes to be involved with the community.
“I’m real keen on police and community relations. I like to show people that were more than just a uniform. We have regular hobbies and we care about the communities we police and I know it’s for a good cause,” said Officer Browder.
The purpose of the league isn’t just to blow off steam for first responders but to also provide for the underprivileged youth in Baltimore.
“Most JV teams don’t have a budget, so I take the funds and use it for kids that can’t afford the tennis shoes and the sweatsuits and things like that. Half of the proceeds go to my team at Coppin Academy and the other half goes to support New Era Academy,” McCoy explained.
Coach Jarrett Ingram, New Era Academy’s athletic director, allows the league to use the gym at the school.
“Tavon McCoy was a coach here at New Era before going to Coppin Academy and a lot of times it can be tough generating funds for the program especially with such small schools such as New Era and Coppin, so when he told me he couldn’t use Coppin’s gym, I volunteered for him to use this one.”
“He’s from the neighborhood and also I just like to see the different officers in law enforcement together. Everybody’s been dealing with the pandemic, people are out of shape, and everyone’s been sitting around, so this was a good way to get everybody moving to have some fun on a Sunday,” Coach Ingram explained.