BALTIMORE, Md. - For months, the Baltimore County Police Department has been making sure it sets the right example for kids.
A special basketball clinic designed to show kids that officers are people too ended Friday and left a lasting impression on kids like Autumn Mitchell.
"When kids see police officers they always think they're going to get into trouble or they're going to go to jail but now I can see that they're here for us and that we don't have to be scared of them," Mitchell said.
Captain Orlando Lilly of the Baltimore County Police Department said the clinics are vital.
"They give us the opportunity to build relationships."
Relationships that foster confidence, community and the hope of a safer future.
"I myself was a product of having a relationship with police officers in this is one of the reasons I became a police officer," said Lilly.
Lilly and his fellow officers stand behind these clinics which they said can make all the difference in a child's life.
"What we understand is that if you start building that foundation of that relationship then there's not that opportunity for everything to be adversarial," said Lilly.
Unfortunately, Lilly said too many kids don't see officers as people, but those they see when something is wrong.
"It makes me feel like they're like us that they care about us more than they already do," Mitchell said.
Lilly said reaching kids is the first step to long-lasting and worthwhile community policing and safer streets.
"If you actually catch them early and get them involved in activities that does reduce the opportunity for them to get into those bewitching trouble hours that time after 3 after school," remarked Lilly.
Lilly told WMAR 2 News he plans to organize similar clinics in the future.