ATLANTA – Whether in a pickup game of basketball or a summer football league, cops have long challenged teenagers to battles of athletic prowess.

Playing with kids on their own turf helps to build relationships, the officers say, and could help steer them in the right direction. But there is no going toe-to-toe and hand-to-hand in the middle of a pandemic, when health guidelines encourage separation of at least six feet.

Officers in DeKalb County, Georgia, have taken their outreach efforts to a new, socially-distant arena: online video games.

“This gives us an opportunity and a platform to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community in a completely different realm,” said Detective K. Ricketts, a member of DeKalb’s Police Athletic League Plus (PAL Plus) program, adding that video games are a great equalizer. “We’ve had at-risk youth that have been in gangs with criminal activity and they will go home and play video games.”