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Jul 19

NNPD and Pastor Maxwell’s Trust-Building Initiative a Big Success

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 8:46 AM by Kelly King

One of my top priorities for the Newport News Police Department since my very first day with the agency in January of 2014 is to grow and sustain genuine partnerships with the residents, businesses, and organizations throughout our community.  A partnership is different than other types of relationships, because it is mutually beneficial; both sides of the partnership benefit and together, accomplish more than either could individually.

For our officers, I have indicated that before they can forge real partnerships, they first need to take ownership of their assigned part of the City.  Once a neighborhood knows an officer “owns” the responsibility and consequences of the area, the neighborhood will be much more prepared to engage in a real partnership with that officer and others.  Even with their best efforts, however, we still need helpers to advance the notion of partnerships.

This week, I had the chance to again see the fruits of a real partnemaxwell webrship and the widespread benefits that will continue to grow in the future.  Pastor Willard Maxwell’s In Touch basketball tournament held one of its preliminary rounds at the Denbigh Community Center, and it was an overwhelming success.  Pastor Maxwell, senior pastor at New Beech Grove Baptist Church, has a strong partnership with NNPD at several levels.  He is one of our volunteer police chaplains, and he is a Board member on the Newport News Police Foundation Board, a 501 (c)3 charitable foundation that assists and supports the NNPD.  Above and beyond these formal relationships, I have grown to highly respect and appreciate Pastor Maxwell as a trusted advisor who regularly provides community feedback on our agency, and is someone I can bounce ideas off of and simply ask, “how are we doing?”

Pastor Maxwell’s vision for the In Touch tournament was to create an opportunity to provide young people in our community a positive and safe activity to engage in during the summer months, with a value-added component of connecting them with police officers in a positive setting that might facilitate more mutual understanding and trust building.  In 2016, the initial tournament was a one day event, culminating in a final game between the winning team and the police department team.  This year, two preliminary rounds (one on the Southside of Newport News and one on the Northside) will determine teams to play in the final tournament on August 4th, with the winner again playing the PD team.  For each round, I’ve had the privilege to be part of the welcoming ceremony to the players, and I have encouraged them to look beyond the police uniform just as they would have everyone look past their specific team’s jersey, to be known and acknowledged as an individual person.  Throughout the day, officers from various units of the department can mingle with players and observers to try to make some new acquaintances.  At this week’s event, I had people come talk with me about how to apply to become an officer, how to follow up on a reported incident, even just wanting to thank me for good work done by an officer. 

Having watched the energy and enthusiasm that Pastor Maxwell puts into the In Touch events, I have little doubt that this program is going to grow every year.  The only thing that exceeds the competitiveness and enthusiasm of the players is the positive energy and hope that this tournament represents for our community.  Truly, if we as a community are going to sustain crime reduction and improve safety for all, we must do it through PARTNERSHIPS and fully engage as a community.  Pastor Maxwell and his team have set a great example for many others to follow.