Mayor Patricia S. Mearns


1. Briefly describe the structure of the program.

The City of Shaker Heights currently has in place a Friday night police-sponsored youth basketball program targeted at the city's middle school and high school students. The program is held once a week for three hours, and is supervised by two off-duty Shaker Heights police officers, who interact with the students in an informal setting.

The program became so popular among the students that we had to use both sides of the gym and split the sessions by alternating the weeks between the middle school and the high school.

The students participating in the program must be Shaker Heights high school or middle school students, and must produce a school-issued photo identification card before being admitted to the gym. The students must sign in on a roster sheet, including their address, school and grade, along with a home telephone number. The students must wear either gym shorts, nylon warm-ups or sweat pants, t-shirt, and some type of tennis or basketball shoes. Once inside the gym, students must sign up to play in groups of five, with no switching of players or teams. All games will end after 10 baskets are scored by any one team; the first team to score 10 baskets will win the game. All games will be timed not to exceed 15 minutes in length, with the team leading at the end of the time limit being declared winner of the game. If the score is tied at the end of the time limit, the very next basket by either team will be the winning basket. No one team can exceed three consecutive wins. After three consecutive wins, a team must come off the court and go back into the rotation of teams.

There are no guests permitted or admitted to the Friday night police-sponsored basketball program. No loitering, horseplay or fighting is tolerated among the participants. A violation of these rules could result in an immediate ejection from the program for the evening and a possible 30-day suspension from the program, with letters being sent to the parents from the Chief of Police. There are no outside basketballs permitted in the gym during the course of the basketball program. Basketballs are provided by the Shaker Heights Police Department.

2. When was the program created and why?

The current police-sponsored youth basketball program was created in September of 1994, and has continued to operate with full student participation, without interruption, to date.

The police-sponsored youth basketball program was created to establish a good and positive relationship between the Shaker Heights Police Department and the students within the school district, which includes a section of the City of Cleveland. The program not only allows the students to enhance their athletic abilities, but also gives the students a degree of responsibility, accountability and integrity. The participants know exactly what is expected of them and also are aware of the fact that the success of the program lies primarily with them.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

There are several different ways to measure the effectiveness of our program. We have noticed that during the course of the basketball sessions, there are disputes at times relative to the rules or the outcome of a play that may result in a foul being called. We have observed the students readily mediate the situations and work out the differences among themselves.

We have noticed an increase in the number of participants in the police-sponsored night youth basketball program. The students show up with the I.D.'s and other requirements needed to participate in the program without hesitation, ready to conform to the rules. Having the police officers interact with the students before, during and after the program has really opened up the lines of communication between the students and police. Having the students take on the responsibilities of making the program work by conducting themselves in an orderly fashion has placed the success of the program in their hands.

Through interaction with the students and police, a mutual respect for each other as people has developed. This has provided additional interaction through the police ride-a-long program and a police-sponsored picnic for graduating high school seniors. Further, students will drop by the police department to visit the officers with whom they have become friends.

4. How is the program financed?

Currently, the police-sponsored youth basketball program is financed through the Shaker Heights Police Department operating budget. The basketballs are furnished by the Shaker Heights Police Department, and the gym is provided by the Shaker Heights Board of Education.

5. How is the community involved in the programHow has the community responded to the program?

Some of the parents of the students participating come to assist with the process of helping the kids sign-in and the timing of the basketball games. We have had parents volunteer to drive students home from the program. We have the support of the City Administration and the school officials in supplying what is necessary for the success of the program.

6. Contact person:

Sergeant John D. Boykin

Shaker Heights Police Department

3355 Lee Road

Shaker Heights, Ohio 44210

(216) 491-1255 Office

(216) 491-1224 Fax

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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