On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the New York City Police Department in partnership with the Interfaith Center of New York, hosted Public Safety in Today’s Multi-Faith New York, an event focused on public safety initiatives and efforts to create better understanding between police officers and the multi-faith communities in which they serve. Executive members of the NYPD and leaders from faith based communities gathered for the screening of the new police training video, Policing in Today’s Multi-Faith New York. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with prominent religious leaders. Guests included, but were not limited to, members of the Muslim, Christian, Yoruba-Lucumi, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Unitarian faiths.
The event was hosted by New York City Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Collaborative Policing, Susan Herman, who invited NYPD Chaplain, Father George Anastasiou, to start the event in prayer. Father George spoke of the common goal of police and faith communities alike, which is to find productive ways to promote peace and public safety.
New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill also addressed guests, and spoke about the importance of collaboration on public safety initiatives with New York City’s multi-faith communities. Commissioner O’Neill spoke fondly of the new training video, and the need for increased cultural awareness within the NYPD.
“The New York Police Department has been very fortunate to experience a similar increase of different cultures and religions within our own ranks over the past decade or so,” Commissioner O’Neill shared.
“With such growth, it’s our responsibility to teach the basic principles of many different customs and viewpoints to every member of our police department.”
Commissioner O’Neill went on to emphasize how culturally informed policing benefits the safety of not only communities of faith, but of the police department as well.
The training video features New York’s religious leaders openly discussing their beliefs, practices, and experiences working on public safety with the NYPD. Each featured leader shares valuable perspectives on how learning the cultural nuances of faith-based communities can improve relationships with their local police. The training video will be shown to all new NYPD recruits who enter the New York City Police Academy, and will be available to all members of the NYPD.
Following the screening, the panel discussion, moderated by Reverend Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, founder of Strategic Destiny, commenced. Guest speakers included Reverend Chloe Breyer, Director of the Interfaith Center of New York; Reverend Que English of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church; Rabbi Robert Kaplan, Founding Director of the Center of Community Leadership; Imam Tahir Kukiqi of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center; and Baba Antonio Mondesire, Interfaith Ambassador of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye. The discussion focused on methods on how religious leaders were individually working on public safety within their communities, as well as with the NYPD. Audience participation followed with a brief Q&A session.