Even though there was plenty of basketball to be played and scores were kept, there were no real winners or losers on Saturday morning, Aug. 9 in the Miami Springs Community Center’s gymnasium.
The event was the Third Annual Medley Police/Youth Sports Basketball Tournament (formerly Hoop-it-Up until they learned copyright infringement was a problem) and the featured guest of the morning, other than plenty of excited kids, was Burnie, the official Heat mascot.
Every member of the Medley town council was present, including Mayor Roberto Martell along with Chief of Police Jeanette Said-Jinete and police captains Jack Young and Julio Chadron, who wore the striped shirts and carried a whistle around their neck.
“This is such a great events for the kids,” said Martell. “They really enjoy it along with the parents and the Town of Medley sponsors a lot of things for our kids and this is one of them. We’re also very grateful to the City of Miami Springs for making their facility available for us today.”
It was a few years back that Detective Arturo Jinete began putting events together involving the Medley cops and the local youth and from there others have followed and taken over the operation. This year officers Louis Ponce and Jesse Salgado where the chief organizers.
“The reason why we do this is because we want the Medley Police Department and our community, especially the kids, to become a family,” said Ponce. “We want the relationship with the kids in our community to develop. In other words, guidance and we try and build relationships with them. At the end of the day, it brings the community together to become one family. We don’t want them to look at us as just cops but as mentors, as friends, as people they could speak to at any time.”
“This is so terrific because it brings the officers and the youth of our community together in a wonderful way,” said Said-Jinete. “They look forward to it and we actually don’t play against the kids, we play with them putting teams together consisting of both officers and kids. Thank goodness for Miami Springs as we have no indoor facility and putting something on our outside courts on a hot day like this would have been impossible. We really appreciate the city allowing us to use their facility.”
Plenty of free food and drink were available for all who dropped by, including a “truck-load” of pizza from Papa John’s.
“It’s really cool because not only is it fun just to play basketball but playing with the cops, you learn how to play fair and get along,” said 12-year-old Nico Perez, still huffing and puffing from having just finished a game his team had won. “I had a great time today, can’t wait to do it again.”
Burnie was his usual mischevious self, interfering with the basketball, dancing with the kids and even pulling Chief Said-Jinete out on to the dance floor at one point. Burnie was even seen tiptoeing over to Young and “sliding him a couple of 20s” in order to “keep things fair,” if you know what we mean.
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“This really emphasizes the importance of us reaching out to the youth of the community and build up the trust,” said Salgado.