ATLANTA – Mayor Andre Dickens came up with a unique idea to reduce crime in the city of Atlanta. The amazing part is it appears to be working.
Reporter Aungelique Proctor took FOX 5 courtside to the Mayor’s Midnight Basketball program.
The goal of the program is to get young people out of gangs and off the streets where they may commit violent crimes.
It was a historic moment for the Mayor on Wednesday as he honored the first ever female winners of Midnight Basketball with a golden trophy.
The popular youth recreational program has proven to be a win-win for the city.
“This is huge. It’s grown so much in the last year and a half. We have so many people out. We got multi-generational. We got mothers, sons, kids, grandparents here. The whole community [is] out enjoying Midnight Basketball,” Mayor Andre Dickens said excitedly during Thursday night’s championship game.
When the kids are on the Midnight Basketball court, Dickens says police calls are consistently down within a mile radius.
“Even when we do this with Midnight Basketball, even the chief of police said they were getting 70 calls a night before you guys started Midnight Basketball, we only get three now on that particular night, so it does help crime,” play-by-play announcer Ricky Brown told Proctor.
The league is impacting more than just basketball skills. Those who are 14 to 24 years old are learning life skills and also building community.
“People are safe having a good time, learning conflict resolution and community building. I’m encouraged by it and I have to keep doing it over and over again,” the mayor said.
“It’s bigger than sports. We do free haircuts, free everything. They get an opportunity to get a job, and you can get your record expunged. So it’s bigger than basketball. It’s balling with the purpose,” Brown said.