Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Photo: Participants in the six-week COPS & HOOPS program held at the Infinite Lifestyle Solutions teen drop-in center in Brighton Heights sit in a “restorative circle.” By Police Chief Scott Schubert
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) and Saving Our Sons and Daughters, a “community-driven grassroots response to the issues of youth violence,” wrapped up a six-week program called COPS & HOOPS (Hold Off On Pulling Shots) held at the Infinite Lifestyle Solutions teen drop-in center in the Northside.
COPS & HOOPS was developed by Cecelia Ware, the executive director of Infinite Lifestyle Solutions with the purpose to collaborate and assist youth to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the opportunities and challenges related to police work, and to inspire hope that violence is preventable. This effort also strengthened the relationships police officers have with the youth in the communities they serve.
Many PBP officers participated throughout the program, including Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, Assistant Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff, and both Community Resource Officers (CROs) and Neighborhood Resource Officers (NROs). Members of the
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, K-9 Unit, Mounted Unit, Narcotics and Vice Squad, Graffiti and Crime Unit, and GVI (Group Violence Intervention) Unit were also present.
At the end of each session, the police and youth ate a home-cooked meal together. On Week Six, the police and youth from the Foundation of Hope Diversion Program and the Juvenile Probation Community Intensive Supervision Program (CISP) program played basketball together and ended with a banquet. Infinite Lifestyle Solutions partnered with the Propel Wellness Center and School to host the basketball game and awards dinner.
The youth appreciated the initiative and felt it should be replicated throughout the City.