NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – New Bern Police Department kicked off the first night of their Noble Knights Chess Club on Monday. The program is designed to engage and form relationships with youth.

“We want them to know that police officers, whether they wear this uniform or any uniform of law enforcement, we’re there to protect and serve them,” said New Bern Police Chief, Patrick Gallagher. “That we are their advocates, we are their friends, and we want them to trust us.”

Chief Gallagher said the New Bern Police Department began the program a little over a year ago, partnering with the community.

“Chess is an equalizer. anyone can play whether you’re in a wheelchair or 90 years old or whether you’re Shaquille O’Neal, there’s no difference. It’s about your brain, about developing skills. it’s about making three moves in advance, it is a great skill,” said Chief Gallagher.

Chief Gallagher added if you learn how to play chess and stick with it, you’re more likely to finish high school, go to college, and be more successful.

New Bern Police Department traffic officer, Rachaud Russell said he started playing chess in middle school and hasn’t stopped.

“It expanded my mind, you know. So I started asking why questions instead of just accepting people telling me stuff. So, it did bother my mom, but I learned a lot and I still do it to this day so I hope the kids can pick up that from this,” said Russell.

Chief Gallagher said not only is the Noble Knights program a way to connect with the New Bern community, but he hopes to see it expand.

“I would love to be able to encourage my peers and other police departments to join us. To encourage those police departments to form a chess league of their own, so my New Bern Noble Knights can potentially go to other cities and play other police departments. I would really love to see that grow amongst other law enforcement communities in Eastern North Carolina,” said Gallagher.

If you were unable to make Monday night’s chess meeting, you can still take part. Noble Knights will meet again Jan. 30 from 5:30pm – 7pm at West New Bern Recreation Center (1225 Pine Tree Drive).

If you have any questions contact Sgt. Brice of the New Bern Police Department.