Police, firefighters together on the court to support community

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Traditionally, there is a friendly rivalry between police and fire departments — but Saturday first responders from both Providence and Pawtucket were together on the basketball court.

Officials said the mission on the court is to connect with the community, especially the young people — not just to stop the violence but to stop the culture that breeds violence.

For three years, city council member and Providence police officer Timothy Rudd has been gathering first responders on the court in Pawtucket. He said he’s been on the force for more than a decade.

“In a neighborhood that is as dynamic as this, with all the different backgrounds, we need to show that we can bring everybody together for a positive event. It gives us an opportunity to get our youth off the streets,” he said.

On the very courts they are playing on, Pawtucket holds their summer youth basketball program.

“Everything we do is about relationships. And when you have that relationship and you have the trust from the community, they’re more willing to share information,” Rudd said.

While police and fire officials work to build relationships with youth, Melissa DaRosa is working to get more community members to step forward and make a difference themselves.

“There’s people who wake up with conflict and don’t know how to deal with them, and we need to pay attention to those people and teach them how to solve their problems without using violence,” she said.

DaRosa is with the group Knowledge Is Power. She said the activities with the kids brings the community together with one common goal.

“You don’t have to wake up in the morning and go shoot somebody, you don’t. You can be anywhere in the world if you really put your mind to it,” she said.

On Saturday, first responders also donated a $2,000 check to the Autism Project from the police and fire unions.

Other community events are planned throughout the summer. The next is a block party on August 23 at Payson Park.