LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers made special deliveries to kids on Tuesday. They were armed with hockey sticks, nets, and Vegas Golden Knights swag.
"We miss helping out these kids," said LVMPD Lt. Phillip Merges. "You do a lot in the police world where you're arresting people, you're taking bad guys off the streets, but at times, when you can change a child's life when you can affect them for the future - that's what really matters."
Before the pandemic began, Las Vegas officers were coaching and mentoring about 50 at-risk kids in a weekly game of street hockey, as part of the Heroes United Hockey program. Lieutenant Merges said when they tried to take their practices virtual, they realized the kids didn't have what they needed.
"We got with the Vegas Golden Knights, and they offered to give us sticks and street balls and get us set up and ready to roll," Merges said.
Tuesday morning, a team of officers and representatives from the Golden Knights rolled up to kid's homes with a special - and safe - delivery.
"They teach me how to play," said 7-year-old Leo, who's been with the program for six months. "I play with people, and I have so much fun."
The people he plays with - his coaches - are the same people called to protect him and his family every day.
"We have kids that have never played hockey, never even heard of our hockey team, and now they're being connected with the program, and in a positive thing, they're being connected with police officers and showing them a different side of us. We're their coaches and their friends," said Merges.
And even while they have to be apart, this team is still very much together. And officers say in this game of hockey, everyone wins.