CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday was the kickoff for the Unity Basketball League at the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club.

According to the news release sent to 22News by the Massachusetts State Police, the league is part of the state police’s TEAM Initiative, aimed at building stronger ties between police and the communities they serve.

22News was there when the games started and we heard why these sorts of community events are so important.

“It’s important for us that the kids understand that we are parents ourselves, ball players just like them, and we look forward to the opportunity just to come out and rebound for the kids and shoot around with them,” said Detective Lieutenant Anthony Dear of the Massachusetts State Police.

Most recently, the state police have launched a separate Unity Basketball League for Girls in honor of Tamar Bucci, a state trooper who was killed in early March.