West Valley City’s Cops and Cleats program hits the hardwoodSep 11, 2023 02:33PM ● By Darrell Kirby
Boys and girls participate in West Valley City Police Department’s Cops and Cleats basketball training session in August at the Family Fitness Center. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)
There were no cleats because they wouldn’t be too kind to the indoor basketball courts at the West Valley City Family Fitness Center. But there were plenty of sneaker-clad boys and girls at the first basketball version of the West Valley City Police Department’s Cops and Cleats training event on a mid-August Thursday morning.
More than 100 kids through age 17 hit the hardwood to learn a few basketball skills and see West Valley City police officers not as adversaries but as the good guys and gals in the community who are also willing to hoop a little with young people.
“Like in sports, the law enforcement community is only successful if we work as a team (with local citizens), so our idea is to build trusting relationships with the community youth members so that we can work as a team to have a successful community,” said Lt. Levi Lloyd, who spearheaded the formation of Cops and Cleats in West Valley City.
Lloyd said the budding relationship between police and youth extends beyond the field and court the rest of the year. “We have a lot of kids come up to us and say, ‘Hey, we saw you at the sporting event and good to see you.’”
Similar versions of Cops and Cleats exist around the country, but Lloyd said the West Valley City program is tailored to local youth.
“To get better and have fun—and make friends,” said 10-year-old Myles Sharp of his reason for participating in Cops and Cleats.
“This is awesome. The kids seem to love it,” said parent Steve Ousa of West Valley City as he watched sons Mitchell, 9, and Tevin, 7, put up some shots. “It’s cool they see the officers and recognize their faces in the community. I know my kids are more comfortable to run up to say hi and high-five them.”
Lace ‘Em Up, a Lindon-based basketball training academy, provided instruction to the young ballers.
In a report issued in 2018, “Police-Youth Engagement,” the International Association of Chiefs of Police noted that “…research finds that positive interactions with police are predictive of positive attitudes toward the police, negative interactions are predictive of negative attitudes.”
Lloyd kicked off Cops and Cleats in 2022 with a football training event at Hunter High School. That occurred again this summer with soccer and basketball sessions being added for the first time.λ