Georgia

Officers joining Oakland Park basketball game “changed my son,” Columbus mother says

Officers Reeves and Henderson stopped to play some basketball with a group of kids in Oakland Park Sunday afternoon. Shanika Carter captured the moment happening in front of her house and said the experience made her 10-year-old son, Christian, think about officers in a more positive way.
Officers Reeves and Henderson stopped to play some basketball with a group of kids in Oakland Park Sunday afternoon. Shanika Carter captured the moment happening in front of her house and said the experience made her 10-year-old son, Christian, think about officers in a more positive way. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

It’s an image you might expect to see on a Sunday afternoon, a group of friends playing basketball in their neighborhood. But a photo one mother posted over the weekend features two unexpected players — Columbus police officers.

Shanika Carter lives in Oakland Park. Her son Christian, 10, had some friends over on Sunday afternoon playing basketball outside of their home.

Carter said Officers Reeves and Henderson were in the area responding to a neighbor’s dispute call. When the two officers saw the kids playing basketball, they asked to join in.

“My son came to the door like, ‘Mom, mom, the police are out here playing basketball with us!’” Carter said. “It just made me feel good, especially with the negative connotation police have right now.”

She asked the officers if she could take a photo of the group playing together, and they said yes.

“I was happy,” Christian said about the officers asking to join the game. “It just made happy because when I was little, I used to think all police officers were bad but when they started playing basketball with us I stopped thinking that.”

Carter posted the photo on her Facebook page around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. It’s been shared over 160 times and liked over 570 times. The post was also shared to multiple community Facebook groups, like the Concerned Citizens Forum and Neighborhood Watch pages, where it was shared and liked hundreds more times.

The vast majority of comments praised the officers for taking time out to play with the kids, but a long thread on the Concerned Citizens Forum wondered if the officers’ time was better spent working.

Carter said she found the negative comments “disturbing” since the experience was entirely positive for her son and his friends.

“There shouldn’t be any negative connotations with that image, that’s all positive,” Carter said. “I know they changed my son and his perception of the police so just don’t be so quick to judge.”

The Ledger-Enquirer is currently working to reach the two officers involved in the basketball game. Check back for an update on this story later today.

Lauren Gorla: 706-571-8647, @gorla94

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