Gainesville police officer, Bobby White, responded to a 911 call in Gainesville, Fla. on Jan. 15, 2016. Upon arrival, the officer saw that the source of the noise was a few neighborhood kids playing basketball on the street. White did not recommend that the boys end their game, instead, he joined them. It was this decision that led the officer and the footage that was taken from his dashcam to go viral. This video was viewed by an NBA legend, Shaquille O’Neal, who made his way alongside the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) to play a pick-up game with the kids. With the help of O’Neal, the Gainesville officer has started a local foundation.
Since that game, White came up with the idea to build a basketball court for the kids. The court was built in one of the kids’ backyards. The court was built with the infamous hashtag #HOOPSNOTCRIME, that White had introduced the month before. The Harlem Globetrotter Buckets Blakes helped with the opening of the new basketball court with the kids and White.
Gainesville Police Department’s Officer Ben Tobias has been the personal GPD social media manager and spokesperson. He created #HoopsNotCrime and was responsible for posting White’s dashcam footage on the GPD Facebook page. With the additional help of Tobias, White has received numerous basketballs and portable basketball hoops that will go towards the Basketball Cop Foundation. Since the start of the foundation, White has made trips to other neighborhood kids and their families. When he found out that last Christmas Eve a family lost all of their gifts, he donated a new basketball and a hoop to them as well.
The Gainesville officer did not stop here, and with the help of Shaq, he decided to start a foundation for all neighborhood kids in the area. The Basketball Cop Foundation will help deliver basketball equipment to local neighborhood kids. He has contacted various Gainesville apartment complexes with plans to restructure their basketball courts. White and his organization will be providing basketball courts to the apartment complexes that do not have one.
Tobias and White have received donations nationwide. According to GoFundMe, the foundation has collected $3,911 towards their goal of $25,000. The Basketball Cop Foundation has had the help from other police agencies throughout the country. Their process consists of seeking out locations where basketball games take place for neighborhood kids, and then together, they make plans to either refurbish or construct the courts.
In Gainesville, The Basketball Cop Foundation has already started project plans for the Granada Apartment complex and Passage Family Church on NE 15 Street. The foundation will assist in reconstructing the basketball courts in time for the church’s annual and free summer camp for kids.
One simple act of kindness was made when White could have easily responded to a “noise complaint” and chose to break up a group of kids playing basketball. Instead, the Gainesville police officer chose to let the kids be kids and play. The video was viewed by over 14 million viewers after just one week. #HoopsNotCrime was started to emphasize that the GPD would focus on crimes being committed, and not noise complaints. With the help of Shaq, the GPD was able to take part in the community at a different level and provide a positive outlook on law enforcement altogether in a society where at times, they may be overlooked.
By Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Cathy Milne
WPEC: Gainesville Officer starts foundation after pick-up game with Shaq and neighborhood kids
GoFundMe: “Basketball Cop” Bobby White needs backup again.
ThePostGame: ‘Basketball Cop’ Stretching Fame Into Foundation
Image Courtesy of edkohler’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License