ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Helping crime rates go down could be as simple as a game of pick-up basketball.
In the wake of increased car and home break-ins since school ended for summer break, South Georgia officers are using the sport as a crime-fighting tool.
They have been meeting students and teens at recreation departments and gyms all week, playing ball and encouraging everyone to stay out of trouble.
Demetrious Kendrick was one of the Albany Police officers who played basketball with kids and teens at Henderson Gym Wednesday.
He is familiar with the facility, as he spent much of his childhood right here.
"[I grew] up playing basketball in Albany Parks and Recreation, I know and understand how everything works," said Kendrick. "And I know and understand how things are on the streets."
And when he talked with the kids, he kept their attention.
"When you see us in our uniforms, you can still speak. You know, we're no different than you," Kendrick said.
Albany Police say community policing is key to fighting crime, and they know playing ball with kids is a good way to teach them a better way.
The kids are listening, by the way.
"I think it's a good chance for us to learn not to do wrong things, said 12-year-old Dailan Hall, "and they teach us."
"They try to get the kids [to quit] being bad in the neighborhood," added 12-year-old Malcolm Mathis.
"Just because you come from a certain type of neighborhood, doesn't mean you have to make those negative decisions," noted Kendrick.
"In and out of uniform, we'll always be your friend," he added. "We'll be there for you. We'll try to keep you on the right track."
Police officers can be trusted. That's his message.
Albany Police officers will play basketball at the Bill Miller gym on Thursday.