MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Muskogee police officers held their last evening of "Night Hoops" before school starts next month.

The night event gives kids in Muskogee an outlet to have fun, but also build trust and lasting bonds with police.  

If it's a summer Friday night in Muskogee, you'll find a loyal following of kids hanging out with police at the Martin Luther King Community Center on North 3rd Street. 

This is where the bond between police officers and young minds begin.

Tony Russell: "Why do you like night hoops?"
Temaj Williams: "Because we get to play basketball."
Tony Russell: "What do you think about the police officers?"
Temaj Williams: "Good."
Tony Russell: "How big of a deal is Night Hoops?"
D'Asia Brown: "Big."
Tony Russell: "Why?"
D'Asia Brown: "You get to hang out with your friends in. Safe place and cooperate."

The Muskogee Police Department is proactive in its community policing.  Officers in the green shirts are the departments community resource officers. 

"Get back on the sidewalk so you won't get in the street ok? Thank you!" Ronald Mayes, Community Relations Officer.

Officer Mayes is always talking with kids.  

"I'm a firm believer of when kids are in that influential stage, if we can influence them then we won't have a problem with them once they get older," said Ronald Mayes.

And that's why for more than two decades "Night Hoops" has been so important in bridging the gap between the Muskogee community and its police force.

The next big community policing event is at National Night Out on Tuesday, August 2nd at three of the city's parks.