On January 15, 2016, Officer Bobby White responded to a 911 call regarding a noise complaint in a Gainesville, Fla. neighborhood. Officer White found that the noise complaint was due to a few teenage boys playing basketball and, instead of breaking up the “disturbance,” he joined in for a short game. He told the boys that he would be back with backup for another game, but neither they nor the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) expected what would happen next.
Officer White’s police car dash-cam footage filmed his reaction to the call. The video eventually was released to the public on the Gainesville Police Department’s Facebook page. The GPD’s caption on the post said, “Officer White was recently dispatched to a call of kids playing basketball ‘loudly’ in the streets. In the evening. Having fun. Not committing crimes. Let’s see how he handled it.” On the video, Officer White arrives on the scene and says, “Can you believe someone’s calling to complain about kids playing basketball in the streets? Well, I ain’t got no problem with it,” and joined in to shoot some hoops with them instead of sending the kids home. He even showed off by dunking the basketball.
Officer White, upon leaving, tells the basketball players that he will be returning with more police officers sometime soon to play a challenge game. The video currently has 14 million views and is still trending on social media and other various news sites.
While the video has been viewed by millions, it had one special fan who took the initiative to approach Officer White and the Gainesville Police Department. Shaquille O’Neal, an NBA icon who spent a few years playing for the Miami Heat, visited the Gainesville Police and decided he wanted to join in on a surprise trip with them to the challenge basketball game.
On Saturday, January 23, several Gainesville police officers approached the neighborhood, led by Officer White. While the kids may have thought that this challenge against local cops would be a simple game, they were most likely not expecting who the police brought as a back up.
O’Neal emerged from an oversized SUV and was welcomed by applause and stunned cheers from a large contingent of the Gainesville neighborhood. He joined in on the rematch and concluded by advising the kids to achieve their dreams. He signed a few basketballs and gave one of the kids a hundred dollar bill after losing a shooting bet.
The Gainesville Police Department, whose one simple act of kindness caught the attention of Shaquille O’Neal, probably did not think it would lead to a surprise visit by the NBA legend. The GPD probably did not think that the video would obtain as many views as it has and as it continues to collect. In response to the viral video, the Gainesville Police Department has emphasized #HoopsNotCrime, saying they were just letting the kids be kids. They also stated that they are going to continue to focus on the individuals who are committing crimes.
In this brief video, Officer White, the Gainesville Police Department and O’Neal gather with a few neighborhood kids to do just what kids do – play basketball.
By Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Cathy Milne
People: Florida Police Officer Responds to Noise Complaint by Joining the Fun
WFLA: Shaquille O’Neal visits Gainesville Police after viral video
Fox6 Now:#HoopsNotCrime: Shaq, Florida officer surprise kids with a basketball match
Image Courtesy of Keith Allison’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License