When the NYPD decided it wanted to use basketball as a tool for reaching out to young men in southern Queens, officers in Patrol Borough South reached out to York College, and to Doneilous King.
King, who runs a basketball academy of national acclaim in upstate Utica, put more than 40 through his drills in dribbling, passing, shooting and teamwork on Sunday.
“If I can teach them to have discipline on the court, it makes it much easier to carry it over to discipline in life,” King said while his charges took a water break.
Officer Johnny Hines of the 113th, who helped organize the morning and afternoon sessions, said they brought in players from various areas of the city as part of the department’s Cops and Kids program.
“They’re from Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan,” he said. “We reached out through the Police Explorers, Police Athletic League, schools we work with and word of mouth. They’re from different neighborhoods, different communities. We want to help them bridge that gap.” As well, Hines said, as the gap between the young men and the police.
Lt. Donzel Cleare, a community affairs officer in Patrol Borough South, naturally reached out to York College, where he had been a star for Head Coach and Athletic Director Ronald St. John. The two-time CUNY Athletic Conference all-star is a member of the school’s 1,000-point club.
“I’ve been to six NCAA tournaments,” St. John said. “He took me to my first one.”
St. John said the school does whatever it can, whenever it can, to promote community projects that benefit the city. Cleare said use of a gym on a college campus was a deliberate choice over any one of myriad parks and playgrounds in southern Queens.
“That was no accident,” Cleare said. “We want them to see a college campus. We want kids in middle school to think about high school, and kids in high school to think about college.”
“It works,” St. John said.