SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is bridging the gap between law enforcement and today’s youth with football.
“For me, growing up, football was one of the tools to help keep me out of trouble,” Deputy Cody Cotten told FOX40.
Cotten is one of the founders of the “Friday Night Lights” program.
In its second season, Cotten and other deputies visit a different high school each week.
Cotten said the Thursday dinner they host with players and coaches also helped build a relationship.
“They treated me with respect,” Byrd Alexander, a Foothill High School senior, told FOX40. “They came at me calm, collected and I felt really welcomed and appreciated.”
The sheriff’s Activities League funds the program and the dinners cost about $1,500 each.
On Fridays, the sheriffs return for game day to engage and build relationships with the rest of the student body.
“The way they are coming in here, like, 'Yeah, we’ll give them a chance,'” Juan Garnica Jr., a Foothill senior, said.
“I get to build these relationships and humanize the badge,” Cotten said.