RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - They live in some of the toughest Richmond neighborhoods, but police are kicking off an effort to keep the youngest members of Fairfield Court out of trouble during summer break. Police say many of the kids have the impression that the cops only come into their communities to arrest people and investigate crimes.
That wasn't the case Wednesday, when officers taught the children a new life lesson through sports: Off the streets and onto the playing field. It was a unique experience for 12-year-old Nigel Jackson, who assumes cops come by his neighborhood for one thing.
"They're going to lock somebody up," said Jackson.
"Some of the kids speculated we're out here to maybe do a search warrant or do something like that. We explain to them we're just here to play soccer," said Richmond Police Sector 113 Lt. Marty Harrison.
The Richmond Kickers and Police Athletic League teamed up for a soccer clinic.
"When kids get bored they can be a little mischievous we want to eliminate that possibility giving them another skill set," said Lt. Harrison.
Lt. Harrison says overall, his sector has seen a spike in crime in the last year with six homicides, 95 robberies, 625 assaults and 133 burglaries. Lt. Harrison says Fairfield, in particular, is holding steady despite a homicide a few blocks south just three weeks ago.
As summer vacation fast approaches, Lt.Harrison says it's important to help the young ones steer clear of the crimes juveniles can get mixed up in.
"A lot of curfew violations maybe some tampering breaking into cars those types of things fights in the afternoons and that's the kind of things we want to help them get away from," said Lt. Harrison.
"It's fun and teaches you how to play soccer," said Jackson.
"This was a very positive move for the kids," said parent Katrina Fuller.
One Richmond police hope will be long lasting.
"Right now they're so impressionable that this is the kind of thing that will stick with them," said Lt. Harrison.
Earlier this week, the same soccer clinic was held in Hillside and Gilpin courts. Tomorrow, it'll be in the Communities of Southwood