(Cincinnati)--Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, is pushing an effort to reach Cincinnati’s at risk youth by holding midnight basketball games.

Blackwell, hosted his first Hoops for Hope Thursday night, organized by Cincinnati police and Boys Hope/Girls Hope. The youth program is part of the Cincinnati Police Activity League, or PAL concept, that the department is integrating.

The basketball program is an effort to reduce violence in Cincinnati’s young people and provide intervention and training, such as in safe conflict resolution.

Dozens of kids played in the midnight basketball game Thursday, but the program also includes some classroom sessions, focusing on building leadership skills, integrity and financial literacy.

Blackwell says some officers will serve as basketball coaches and mentors, but he would like to have some Cincinnati Bengals football players get involved with the program.

Teams are being organized at community centers around the city to form a basketball league.