Officers from the 49 Precinct are partnering with Publicolor and students from MS 144 to build stronger bonds while beautifying their school. Publicolor is an organization that seeks to help young people develop leadership skills and productive work habits through design-based projects. Every week, officers from the 49 Precinct go to MS 144 and help the students repaint the walls of their school.
Police Officer Lepore looks forward to these painting sessions and believes the painting days help both the students and officers better understand each other. Interacting in an informal and positive setting helps break down the perceived barrier between police officers and young people. As they have gotten familiar with each other, the officers have been able to learn more about the daily challenges the teens face in the neighborhood. Officer Lepore believes having an open mind and listening to the community are crucial aspects of being a police officer:
“It’s important to take advice from the community and listen to what they have to say instead of bringing preconceived notions about what you think the community needs.”
Officer Lepore has been a police officer for 13 years, but is particularly enthusiastic about what he has been able to do within the last two years as a Community Affairs officer. After 2 years in this position, he believes that new officers should get as much hands on experience with the community as possible:
“We like to get recent Academy graduates involved so they can see that this job is not just about taking reports, it’s about connecting with the community.”
While they paint, the officers also help the teens develop confidence, communications skills and a connection to the larger community. Publicolor also teaches the students painting techniques, color value, and how to create a positive environment using color.