OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Overland Park Police Department hosted a basketball tournament aimed at providing teens a positive and safe environment to enjoy a Saturday afternoon.
It's been a violent start to 2019 in parts of Johnson County, which has seen multiple teens killed, often by teen suspects, in a series of incidents.
That made the Overland Park police's fourth annual All Nets, No Drugs basketball tournament a welcome respite for parents weary of crime and safety concerns.
“My son came to me and said he wanted to do this today,” Sherri Brown said.
With all the options teens have today — social media, video games and other ways to spend the day — sometimes simplicity resonates.
“We wanted to do something to bring the neighborhood together, so we decided to do a basketball tournament,” Overland Park PD Ofc. Justin Seals said.
It's gaining increasing attention.
“This is our first time," KC Kings coach John Tucker said. "A lot of people heard about us playing basketball and they said we should do 3-on-3."
Tucker, who coaches a local AAU team, says it is important for young people to have a positive environment and also not to see law enforcement as the enemy.
“A lot of kids get scared of the police when they see the lights, see people sick or getting arrested," Tucker said. "To me, I think its a good thing."
A 17-year-old was shot and killed in January at an Overland Park apartment and another 17-year-old was shot and killed last month in Olathe.
With homicides involving young victims and young suspects at the forefront in Johnson County, many believe events like All Nets, No Drugs are a perfect remedy.
“Presence is a big thing, we want the neighborhood know that we are behind them and with them," Seals said. "Seeing them have a good time and provide a safe place for them to have on a Saturday, there is no more we can ask than that."
Brown already is planning to bring her son back next year.
“Kids can come and play ball, do something positive, something good for their bodies," she said. "The more interaction we can have with that the better. This is something my son will definitely do again."