The Odessa Police Department has named its February Officer of the Month for his commitment to being a part of the community as a police officer.

Cpl. Steve Fuentes was recognized by OPD after he took time during his shift with his training officer to play a pick-up game of basketball with a group of kids and interact with the residents in the neighborhood he patrols.

“It’s not something I expected,” Fuentes said about being named Officer of the Month. “I love my job, and I come to do my job and someone recognized that I was doing good work.”

Fuentes said he was proud of the recognition he has received.

“There’s a sense of pride knowing the job you’re doing is being recognized,” he said. “You’re setting the example for others to emulate.”

Fuentes and his trainee, Probationary Police Officer Nicholas Moore, were called about a juvenile problem in the 900 block of Monahans Street, an OPD news release stated. Upon arrival, they saw no disturbance, so Fuentes and Moore got out and played a pick-up game of 2-on-2 basketball with the kids.

As they were playing, more children came out to join their game, and Fuentes said they received words of encouragement from several adults in the area.

“I just tried to put myself in their shoes,” Fuentes said about playing basketball with the kids.

Fuentes said he thinks community interaction, while it’s only one factor, plays an important role in improving relationships between police and the people they serve.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Fuentes, born and raised in Fort Stockton, has been with OPD for the last four years, serves the Operations Bureau, Patrol Shift B as a Field Training Officer and is also a member of the OPD SWAT Team.