The Kings took a step to bridge the gap between Sacramento, California police and the city's residents, particularly their youth.
According to ABC 10, on Monday an estimated 150 high school students from three local high schools were invited by the team for a panel at Midtown Bayside Church. The purpose of the forum was to improve the community relations between the city's youth and law enforcement.
The panel consisted of Kings players DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes and Garrett Temple; NBA Security representative and former Sacramento Sheriff Dwight Pruitt; and Deputy Chief of Police Ken Benard.
The students were given an ample opportunity to raise concerns about how the Sacramento police officers affect their community. There were also some demonstrations involving the attendants and officers around various scenarios, including how to react during a traffic stop. Officer Benard acknowledged the fear he witnessed from the city's youth, and hoped the forum would quell their hesitations around law enforcement members.
"Yeah, I learned there's fear in the community still," said Deputy Chief Bernard. "We have a lot of work as a profession to break down those barriers."
Matt Barnes, a Sacramento native, also talked about how that fear can be mitigated as relationships between the city's youth and its law enforcement continue to improve with better communication after this event. “We feel like there is a lack of knowledge on the citizens' part and a lack of knowledge on the police officers’ part which creates fear,” Barnes said. He added, "“Officers being more personable, citizens being more susceptible and open to listening to what they have to say; and that goes both ways,” said Barnes.
The Kings' leading scorer and All-Star DeMarcus Cousins spoke about the effectiveness of this forum and its impact on the local youth. "Just listening to the kids, just listening to the community, it touched me (and) I understood," Cousins stated. "I wanted to bring it back to where I'm from and the city I live in, as well." Cousins also called it the first annual meeting, implying that the Kings plan to continue the forum series in the future. "I think it was a beautiful thing, it was a positive thing and I think it was steps in the right direction. It won't be the last time."