Cops take time to join kids for basketball game

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When it comes to community relations, Bogalusa Police Department Capt. Kendell Bullen could be considered the city’s unofficial “Ambassador of Good Will.”

While on patrol recently, Bullen received a loud noise complaint at Caswell Drive near Walmart. He discovered a group of teens simply playing basketball and accepted a challenge to join in. He said the few minutes playing basketball was priceless because it showed cops are simply human beings.

“We received the first call about a four-wheeler at a house in the area. I got to talking with the kids,” Bullen said. “We got ready to leave and one of the youngsters gave me a little challenge on the basketball court.

“I probably spent three or four minutes playing with them and spoke to them about right and wrong and tried to tell them policemen are their friends and not bad guys.”

Bullen soon received a second call to the location.

“About an hour later, I responded back to that location,” Bullen said. “That time I took my vest and gun belt off. The youngsters had lowered the goal and were trying to dunk it. They were wanting me to guard them.”

Bullen said the experience was awesome.

“I had a good time connecting with these kids,” Bullen said. “If I ever run into them again, it will be a positive encounter. There is too much negative impact between kids and policemen nowadays. They asked me to come back and play. I told them I would if I had the chance.”

At 47, Bullen said the workout was tiring, but fun. Patrolman Cody Wilson-Hunt watched the game during the second call to the location.

“I just tried to show them a little love,” Bullen said. “They wore me out. It was just good community policing. It let the kids know we’re not all bad. As for the nature of the call, I didn’t feel it was a noise issue. They might have been a tad loud, but I didn’t feel like it was a criminal complaint that had to be handled.”

When they chose sides, teenager Davion Pittman played with Bullen. A video of the encounter has circulated on social media. Pittman’s mother, Patricia Lewis, said Bullen’s actions were welcomed.

“We’re not saying the neighbor was wrong about the loud noise complaint, but the kids usually meet up there to play basketball,” Lewis said. “They’re supposed to abide by the law.

“To have a policeman interacting with them gave the kids more respect for the police and gave them a sense of security. We’d rather have them in the street playing basketball than fighting or something that could have gotten them into trouble.”