NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) — A Newport News pastor is continuing to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement.
Reverend Willard Maxwell of New Beech Grove Baptist Church created the InTouch Community Basketball tournament three years ago. The goal is to build better relationships between first responders and the community.
Hundreds came together for the final tournament of the summer at the Denbigh Community Center.
Maxwell said the tournament has grown since they started three years ago, and he sees its impact.
“It's our job to bring an activity that brings the police and the community together, so they can have a better relationship and it'll give them more open dialogue,” Maxwell said.
The basketball tournament is for ages 12-15 and 16 and up. The winner of the community 16 and up tournament played the winner of the first responder tournament in the championship.
The police department, fire department, sheriff’s department, and other organizations were there to discuss opportunities for employment and educational scholarships.
There were also demonstrations by the fire and police departments, performances by local groups and organizations, music, food, and fun.
The newly hired Newport News Police Chief Drew, Newport News Sheriff Gabriel Morgan, and Police Foundation Chairman Rob Coleman addressed the attendees with short speeches throughout the events.
The first semifinals tournament was held at An Achievable Middle and High school on Friday, June 29. The second tournament took place on Friday, July 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Denbigh High School on Copeland Avenue.
The finale was comprised of the top two teams of each age group of the previous semifinal tournaments.
Friday's final championship game featured the police department versus the Boys and Girls Club staff.
The police beat the sheriff's office the first time in three years, but the community team proved to be a little bit too much for the officers.
Mission Barbeque provided food for the entire tournament and Ferguson funded the event.