Police forces from around the nation got together to play in a weekend basketball tournament at Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County for a cause that was more important than a win or loss, but to remember the fallen.

Law enforcement and fire department members from Maryland and New Jersey played in the final game of a special basketball tournament on April 24 in dedication to fallen Prince George’s County Police Detective JaCai Colson. (Photo by Daniel Kucin)

The Prince George’s County Police Department and Fire Department (Maryland Select) hosted the event. Seven other forces participated in the slate of games that spanned from April 21 through April 23.

Dedicated to Detective Jacai Colson, the tournament honored a man whose life was taken in the line of duty in March of 2016. Colson, who was Black, was killed by a fellow police officer, Taylor Krauss, who is White, during a wild gun fight outside a police station in Landover, Md. Krauss later said he did not recognize Krauss, who was not in uniform. Comprised of Police and Fire Department members, each team’s respective goal was to bring awareness of law enforcement officers and their positive impact on the community.

“When an officer commits to the badge our community is their priority,” said Darnell Hampton of Maryland Select. “ passed away in the act of duty, so the fact that we are doing this is not just to celebrate basketball, but we are celebrating the life of an officer. We just look to honor him and his family.”

The Maryland Select squad challenged New Jersey Elite in the championship game on April 24. Despite having three All-Americans on the team, Maryland Select couldn’t muster enough offense late to take down the Elite as they fell 92-79.

“It’s a great feeling, anytime we can get together as officers to do something for the community to have fun and fellowship, it’s a good thing,” said Rodney Rodgers of the New Jersey Elite. “It’s always good to win.”

Maryland Select enjoyed a one-point lead (65-64) going into halftime, but New Jersey went on a 13-0 run late in the second half highlighted by a successful alley-opp that was thrown down by New Jersey Elite guard Llewellyn Smalley. The Elite scored points in bunches after as they pulled away for a 13-point victory.

“This is my first time playing in it, and it was the best tournament that I’ve ever played in,” said Smalley. “We played together and stayed together to come out and get the victory. We were hitting some shots, and we came out on top.”

Detective Jonathan Sanders organized the event, and said none of it would be possible without the love and support of everyone involved.

After the tournament, friends, and family came down to the court to celebrate with both teams despite the outcome.