Last week, officers and community members gathered at the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) for the fourth installment of the Bridging the Gap Series: Youth, Community, & Police. Over 100 participants and officers from various precincts came together for a night of music and games. Officer Louis, a Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) from the NYPD Housing Bureau’s PSA 1, especially enjoyed the event because it gave him an opportunity to bond with young people in the community in a relaxed and positive setting. His partner, Officer Williams, loves attending the Bridging the Gap events and is already in contact with the RHCJC to plan the fourth installment in April. These events are part of a wider partnership between Brooklyn Precincts and the RHCJC.
Officers Louis and Williams have collaborated with the RHCJC on their Peacemaking Program and youth court initiative. Officer Williams graduated from the RHCJC’s Peacemaking Program in December, and will be mediating his first domestic dispute this month. Officers Louis and Williams are also active participants in RHCJC youth court trials. During youth court trials, teenagers from the community serve as the judge, jury, and advocates. The objective of youth court is to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses learn accountability while avoiding negative contact with the formal justice system. In a recent case, a teenager was put on trial for truancy. Officer Louis attended the trial and believes the youth court is successful on several levels:
“This program allows young people to engage in the justice system, work on their public speaking, and voice their opinions in a safe setting.”
In this case, the teenager was given six months to improve his grades and maintain steady attendance at school. After the trial, officers and community members attend follow-up meetings to encourage the defendant to succeed. Officers Louis and Williams are excited to participate in such initiatives as part of their new roles as a Neighborhood Coordination Officers. In Officer Williams’ words:
“I look forward to coming to work every day because it doesn’t feel like work.”