Photo Gallery |

Building a basketball court at Dower Square in Pittsfield

Video | Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby helps build a basketball court at Dower Square.

PITTSFIELD — Instead of hauling suspects into a court of law, a group of city police are taking some time to build a community basketball court.

Through the Hoops Not Crime initiative, a new 28-by-28-foot basketball playing surface is being installed over the next two weeks at Dower Square, replacing an existing 15-by-15-foot court built decades ago, according to Officer Darren Derby.

D. Condron Construction of Lanesborough on Wednesday began preparing the site for the court, located to the rear of the Wahconah Street public housing development. Condron is among the seven area businesses donating material and labor to help improve recreational opportunities for children in the neighborhood.

"There was no hesitation when we asked for help, everyone jumped on board," Derby said.

Petricca Industries, Century Concrete, Northern Foundations, Walmart, Berkshire Fence Company and Haddad Motor Group are also contributing to the community project — free of charge.

Derby expects the concrete to be poured on Friday and eventually coated, painted and lined. A new clear backboard and hoop will replace the existing one on the hoop stanchion, with benches added under the shade trees for players waiting their turn.

The new basketball court is the latest and grandest effort by city police to build a better relationship with local youth, as inspired by the Hoops Not Crime movement that's sweeping the nation, using the social media hashtag #HoopsNotCrime.

Earlier this spring, Pittsfield police delivered a portable basketball hoop to South Atlantic Street and on several occasions provided new basketballs to children in other parts of the city.

Derby sees Hoops Not Crime as a way to improve upon community policing.

"The fact the kids see you're there and care about what they do is a good thing," he said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233.

Haddad Motor Group is donating proceeds from its "#HaddadSockGame" during the month of June to the Pittsfield Police Department's "#HoopsNotCrime" initiative.

To participate, any time during the month of June, put on some awesome socks, snap a photo, and post it to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #HaddadSockGame, and for every post seen, Haddad Motor Group will donate $1 to the cause.