Syracuse officer bonds with kids on and off the basketball court

Around New York State

Though he’s never fired his gun on duty, Syracuse, New York police officer Brandon Hanks still takes great pride in how he shoots. A standout basketball player in high school and college, Hanks grew up like a lot of kids he knew, fearful of the police.

“The only time I ever really saw them in my neighborhood was when someone was going to jail or getting arrested,” Hanks said.

When he became an officer, he wanted to change that perception, posting a challenge to Facebook to the kids he sees on patrol: A game of one-on-one. First basket wins. If that’s Hanks, the challenger does 20 push-ups. But if Hanks loses, he buys the winner a new pair of sneakers. 

“It gives me the hunger to not lose is thinking about the receipt for that $150 sneaker bill,” Hanks said.

So far, he’s undefeated in 20 challenges. He does get the ball first, but he’s playing in full uniform.

“I have my bulletproof vest on which adds about 10 to 15 pounds. So it kind of balances out the playing field with all this gear,” he said.

So far, the challenge is working perfectly. “All cops are not bad cops,” one kids said.

Just imagine how they’ll feel if Hanks ever has to buy them sneakers. 

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