Morris County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Phil Masi and Madison Borough Police Officer Kyle McDermott brought joy into the lives of a borough family on Sept. 21 when they surprised the household’s youths with a new, portable basketball hoop to replace their own that was destroyed in August by Tropical Storm Isaias.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon accompanied Investigator Masi and Officer McDermott, who were assisted by Sheriff’s Officer Will Diaz when they delivered the basketball hoop with a 50-inch steel-framed, shatterproof backboard to the family. The mother knew the gift, purchased from Dick’s Sporting Goods, was on its way but her children — and some curious neighbors who wondered why police vehicles were in the neighborhood — were pleasantly stunned.
“This is so cool, so nice. It’s such a moving gesture. Especially now, it makes this time more bearable,” said the mother of three sons and a daughter between the ages of 15 and 21.
“I just think this is really cool. It’s a really nice surprise,” the beaming 15-year-old said.
The family’s former basketball hoop was positioned on the side of Sunset Place, where it served as a daily, popular gathering point for neighborhood youths. Investigator Masi and Officer McDermott frequently saw youths around the hoop, dribbling and making dunk shots, so when the exuberance ended after Tropical Storm Isaias twisted and toppled the hoop they decided to take action.
Investigator Masi knocked on the family’s door recently and offered to replace the hoop. He enlisted the help of Officer McDermott, with whom he has maintained a friendship since they graduated together from the Morris County Police Academy.
“I didn’t have a second thought about it. One thing that goes with being a Police Officer is helping out the community,” Investigator Masi said.
Sheriff Gannon said he was proud of how Investigator Masi and Officer McDermott wanted the family and neighborhood youths to resume an activity they clearly enjoy.
“This is simply about neighbors helping neighbors. It really is. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys and what they represent. This is what I know police work to be. I started out walking a beat almost 40 years ago. That’s what they’re doing, being out in the community, being guardians of the people. It’s sort of breathtaking when something like this happens. It’s more than a basketball game,” Sheriff Gannon said.