NYPD Community Affairs Bureau breaks the ice with powerlifting and basketball event at J-CAP

NYPD Blue Chips and Team J-Cap pose for a photo op before their basketball competition.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

It was an action-packed afternoon at J-CAP, a bilingual residential drug treatment program for adults and young adults in Jamaica, Queens. 

NYPD Blue Chips won the best-of-three basketball competition against Team J-Cap. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

For the third time this year, the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau hosted a “Cops, Kids and Community” event for teenagers with the NYPD Blue Chips and J-CAP residents. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Besides the basketball competition, which the NYPD Blue Chips team won 3-0 in a best-of-three series, participants also had a chance to measure their strength with a powerlifting competition. 

Everyone was a winner at the powerlifting competition. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The NYPD began collaborating with J-CAP five years ago with a mentoring program to break the ice between cops and residents, eventually adding a basketball competition. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Det. Darnell Gatling, who called NYPD Blue Chips, a year-round youth mentoring program, into life alongside now-retired NYPD Lt. Michael Almonte three years ago, called the game competitive but friendly. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“We were doing [the event] once a year. [J-CAP residents] loved it so much. The guys here look forward to us being here and playing against us, playing against the kids in a friendly competition. So we’re trying to do it more regularly,” Darnell explained. 

Gatling now runs the NYPD Blue Chips program with his partner, NYPD P.O. Tyrone Bryant, and with the support of countless other cops who dedicate their free time to coaching and mentoring young people between 12 and 17. 

Byrant called the sports competition another “successful event,” showing the residents that they all were equals.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s all about how do you bounce back from your mistakes,” Bryant said. “It shows [the teenagers] that they can learn from people that made mistakes, but avoid from making the same mistakes later down the line.”

For 17-year-old NYPD Blue Chips participant Dayshawn Butler, the event was all about positivity. 

“Playing against older heads, showing the love and especially all coming together. It was a new experience for me because I never really played against other people. So it was fun,” Butler said.  

Maurice Western has been with NYPD Blue Chips for three years and is involved with the sports and mentoring program. 

“It helped me just stay off the streets and do what I love, which is basketball,” Western said. “Mentors talk about your future goals and what you want to accomplish, and they help you with it, guide you.” 

NYPD P.O. Aleksandr Vygon with the Youth Strategies Division was in charge of the powerlifting competition, which included shoulder press, overhead barbell press, bench press and squats. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

For Vygon, everybody was a winner. 

“One of the competitors today was able to bench press about 295, which is very impressive,” Vygon said.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

About the event, Vygon said, “It’s beautiful because the officers get to come out here and spend time with the community. We get to see that we’re all human. And we all have similar interests, and we can spend time together and build a relationship.”

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

J-CAP resident Santos called the event “beautiful” even though he almost hurt himself. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“There was a love of unity, joy and peace. Everybody was in beautiful spirits,” Santos said. “It’s good sports leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork.”

Santos appreciated that the NYPD organized the event and added, “Not every NYPD officer is bad, you know, not all blacks and whites are bad. We got a beautiful crowd coming in.” 

Wydell has been a J-CAP resident for almost two months and felt “amazing.” The event made him feel good. 

“The community is together, young and old. The police getting involved. I think it was very, very, very creative,” Wydell shared.