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Norfolk deputies build community relations with slam dunks and pizza

NORFOLK, Va. - March Madness is right around the corner, but in Norfolk some folks are getting a head start.

On Thursday night, Norfolk sheriff's deputies traded in their police uniforms for basketball uniforms.

They played the East Ocean View Aces in a game of basketball to see who would reclaim the trophy from last year.

The team of Aces was made up of volunteers at the recreation center, high schoolers and kids who were once members.

Sheriff Baron said while it's fun for everyone involved, the message behind the event is important.

"Community engagement lets the community know that the Norfolk Sheriff's Department is around. [It lets them know] who we are and that we're just as much part of this community as anybody else," Baron said.

In between the baskets and cheers, something special was happening.

A new sense of trust was being formed between the deputies, players and kids in the stands.

One volunteer at the center said if there weren't programs like this available, then a lot of kids in the community would be lost.

Coach and founder of the East Ocean View Athletic Association, Dwight McDowell, said these events help build trust and a stronger future, "This East Ocean View Recreation center [has] helped a lot of lives and I see us changing a lot more in the future."

This is the second year the teams have played one another.

Both teams played their hearts out on the court and the game even went into double-overtime.

Last year the sheriff's department won, but this year the Aces walked away with the win and trophy.

After the games, all guests were invited for a pizza party.

The Aces also played the Norfolk Police Department last week in a similar effort to build community relationships.

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