MIAMI (WSVN) - At a time where tensions are high across the country, the Miami Heat organization announced it is partnering with City of Miami Police and a nonprofit group to promote peace in the community.
At a news conference held Thursday, city leaders and representatives from the basketball team discussed their endeavor to build bridges.
“We have an obligation and an opportunity,” said Michael McCullough, the Heat’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
“This has never happened before,” said M. Quentin Williams, Founder and CEO of the nonprofit Dedication to Community, or D2C.
The announcement comes as protesters in South Florida and across the country continue calling for social justice and police reform.
“Today is a very, very large step in the right direction, in healing some of the wounds that we’re seeing in this country,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Starting next week, Miami Police will be implementing a new training program used by the FBI to help foster a better relationship with the community.
“Our involvement was to bring this all together, to be the bridge between law enforcement and the community,” said McCullough.
“The fact that somebody wants to stand up like the Miami Heat and say, ‘We’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder with you because we have this platform, and we’re going to make it our mission, as it is yours, to make Miami the greatest city, not just in Florida and in the country, but in the world. Man, that takes a lot,” said Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina. “That kind of commitment is so important.”
The way the training works is through workshops hosted by Dedication to Community with both officers and community members.
“To build trust, healing and reconciliation, we do it all through story, so it’s a way of connecting with the audience,” said Williams.
The project comes as the Heat continue to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
At Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, players wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts, and the coaches were seen with name tags that read “racial justice.”
The organization has been vocal about promoting change since the June protests in parts of Miami.
“It’s our obligation, it’s our duty, when we see an opportunity, to get involved and make our community better,” said McCullough.
Those involved in the initiative said making the community better is the goal, for the Miami Heat as well as the police department.
“There are going to be mistakes, but what matters is, how do we address these mistakes? What do we do with this, and where do we go from here?” said Colina. “That’s what matters.”
“It’s an opportunity for us to take a step and turn rhetoric into action,” said McCullough.
It’s unclear how long the workshops will last.
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