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Viral Syracuse Police Officer challenging kids, improving relations one basket at a time

Regional

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – He’s a basketball-playing Syracuse Police Officer who’s teaching kids the importance of community.

If you live in Central New York, you’ve probably seen the videos of Officer Brandon Hanks crossing over kids on basketball courts across the city.

The videos of kids taking on a uniformed officer have been shared thousands of times. The challenge? If they win, they get a free pair of sneakers, but if they lose they owe 20 push-ups.

“There’s really not a lot positive going on right now in the City of Syracuse with children and there’s a lot of negative stuff going on with the police and citizens in the community. This is something they can look forward to,” said Officer Hanks.

Officer Hanks grew up on the south side of Syracuse, played basketball at Henninger High School and then four years at SUNY Morrisville. His home court was at Upper Onondaga Park.

“It’s a lot nicer than it was back in the day. The color is different too,” said Officer Hanks. “We didn’t call it Upper Onondaga either, we’d just say meet at the court and we’d play here all day. I loved it.”

He’s using his basketball skills to change his hometown and hoping to improve the narrative between Syracuse Police.

Playing basketball may seem simple, but it’s something that Officer Hanks didn’t see when he was a kid but now he realizes the true impact it can have.

“If you come to a park and a police officer comes to play basketball with you, that’s a huge thing for some of these kids nowadays. They’re aspiring to be police officers, lawyers, doctors…these interactions can change their mindset forever,” said Officer Hanks.

Hanks’ 15-0 record speaks plenty to his skill but more than winning he’s building connections one-on-one just like on the court.

“If I can relate to them and show them I was in the same shoes they were. Stepped on the same court you stepped on and look at the uniform I’m wearing and maybe make them realize maybe I can talk to some police officers and maybe police officers aren’t as bad as I thought they were,” said Hanks.

Hanks is now encouraging other officers to find their own way to score with the next generation and while he isn’t planning to lose, when the time comes Hanks says he’ll hold up his end of the bargain – with a new pair of sneakers.

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