By TK Singleton, Community Initiatives Coordinator
“No officer should ever curse at you and I am sorry, for that” was a response from an officer that was asked about the proper protocol when speaking to youth -- This comment broke the invisible wall in the room for the one of the NYCHA community talks.
Bronx Community Solutions hosted the tail end of a NYPD city-wide initiative to create open dialogues with officers and the community. We hosted the PSA 7 and PSA 8 community talks.
The First community dialog took place in the Monroe Housing complex, located in the Soundview area of the Bronx (the same neighborhood of the Amadou Diallo shooting). The fifteen community representatives were specially invited (ages varied from 19-54) by the tenant association. Despite the familiarity with NYPD; the relationship between the tenant association’s members and the average patrol officer is estranged. This dynamic led to some interesting conversations.
The main topics of discussion were: vertical patrol, trespassing violations and the "writing of names" in the officer’s scrap book. An officer wanted to emphasize that he was passionate about the work he does in the community that he has patrolled for over 10 years- "I care! I care about this job, this neighborhood and the safety of the residents-It might not look like it, but I do." One of the youth replied "If you take the extra 10 seconds to explain why I'm being stopped, then that will show me you care”
The second talk had over 60 people, mostly youth between 13-22 years of age. The youth had all had prior contact with NYPD and their experiences were varied from positive to negative. At times, keeping the conversation productive was challenging: . Overall, I was pleased with the openness of both the officers and the residents.
The main questions of the night were about “trespass” and “stop & frisk.” I commend each young person who spoke; they were both respectful and passionate when they spoke about their experiences or when they asked questions.
The discussion took over two hours to finish- both the officers and the youth left with smiles