CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts State Police Unity Basketball League is strengthening bonds between law enforcement and communities.

The games kicked-off Thursday evening at the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club. It’s a way for constructive interaction among youth in a fun and safe environment. The league first debuted last year and has since expanded to various cities through the region. 22News heard from a state trooper on how events like this positively impact youth in the community.

Tom Sullivan, a Massachusetts State Trooper and Site Manager for the Unity Basketball League said, “Here it’s our third league. Obviously the first night, the first season, kids might have been timid, but now they see me on the street, they come up and talk. So clearly it’s an environment that’s positive, they feel comfortable talking to us. I think it leads to helping them beyond the basketball court.”

Eight new youth teams are expected to form through the region and youth will have the chance to play against local law enforcement.