By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tony Adams is a veteran police officer in Minneapolis.

He has seen much, and he is concerned about the condition of the city and the violence that has been a big part of the news.

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“Right now some things need to change. There’s too much violence going on over there, too many problems going on over there,” Adams said. “We have to … look at what’s going on and how we can prevent these things.”

He understands the city well because he grew up there, playing basketball on a Minneapolis North team that was two-time state runner-up.

Officer Tony Adams (credit: CBS)

Officer Tony Adams (credit: CBS)

“It ultimately got me a four-year college scholarship to play basketball,” Adams said.

That is why he is helping organize a Police Activities League (PAL) — a program for fourth through sixth graders to encourage participation in sports.

“For them to get to know who I am, from them to get to know who other police officers are. We have a lot of police officers who come around that have been a part of the program for a long time,” Adams said. “We also have … PAL kids that play football … years ago that are now police officers.”

So they line it up and get to play together — as a team.

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“It’s nice to be on the team with people you know and to play with, like, your brothers,” said fifth grade running back Darius White.

They are learning to play football, and learning to be football players.

Officer Tony Adams and his PAL youth football team (credit: CBS)

Officer Tony Adams and his PAL youth football team (credit: CBS)

They do it without cost, meaning if you want to play, you can play.

“With things going on in our society right now, what’s going on, our kids are young and we have to educate people on what’s going on,” PAL coach Drew Woods said. “Our kids are getting a chance to know these officers in a great way, and not picturing them as what society pictures them, of what they see of just bad police brutality. These kids get to know them in a fun and loving way. And [officers] get to know our kids.”

This is a little bit about teaching football, and a little bit about tough love.

“[The coaches] can be pushy sometimes,” White said.

Officer Adams understands where he is at because this is where he has been. And he knows the current culture, which is why he has done what he has done to help the city he loves.

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“The one thing about it is when I was a kid, when I was their age, it gave me an avenue … away from crime. So it kept me off the street, it kept me busy and kept me involved in sports,” Adams said.

Mike Max