The event was originally in memory of an 11 year old boy named Romell Jones who was killed in a drive by shooting outside his home while was waiting for a ride to basketball practice. Tammy Smith, Director of A Precious Organization learned about the shooting and it weighed heavy on her heart and she wanted to bridge the gap between area youth and Police officers. She thought there was no better way than a pickup game of basketball in Romell’s honor.
Smith told the Telegraph: “I wanted this to be in remembrance of him,” she said. “Police are always called when something bad has happened and I wanted this to be a fun event so people could get to know each other. I think bad things would happen less if people knew each other a bit better.”
She contacted Jake Simmons who Is the Chief of the Alton Police Department and asked if it would be possible to have an event with the kids and his officers and he was very happy to oblige. The Chief sent Lieutenant John Franke a 20 year veteran of the Department to make the arrangements with Smith and the rest is history.
For the games first turn out of spectators they had 100 people in attendance and refreshments were available. The kids enjoyed pizza and drinks along with getting some exercise on the court with the officers. Spectators and participants learned that the Police are more than just people in uniforms that arrest others, they learned that they are people too.
“I think this is a wonderful turnout for the first time,” she said. “I just hope the kids get a sense of togetherness in the community and get to know the law enforcement – not to be afraid and learn how to have a different outlook on police officers.” Smith said.
A Precious Organization was formed in 2013 by Tammy Smith. It works to help children in the community and has done a considerable amount for Sickle Cell Anemia fund-raising.
YWCA Executive Director Andrea Lamer said she was proud to host such a positive community event on Saturday.
The mayor of Alton Brant Walker was also very pleased with how things turned out at the event stating “We want to make our community safer and the way to do that is with good touch points with the police,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
The Chief of police was also very happy that the event took place as he stated: “We had about several officers and police explorers take part,” he said. “Hopefully this will be another way of building bridges with the youth in the community and showing them we are there to help them. This was a good start in that direction.”
Additional sources: Riverbender