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Bronx Police Try New Tactics to Connect to Local Youth

The police involved death of Deborah Danner, and the shooting death of Sargent Paul Tuozzolo this fall reignited the conservation about police reform and community relationships in the Bronx. While many are focusing on reform within the police department, one city councilman is trying a different approach. Taylor Eldridge reports.

ELDRIDGE1: This fall was a difficult one for police and civilians in the Bronx. (0:04)

(SOUND: NEWS1 – (0:15))

ELDRIDGE2: The shooting deaths of both civilians and police officers have left tensions high. Many people are in search of ways to repair the relationship between police and the community. Andy King, councilman of district 12, has his own solution. King has been facilitating conversations between youth and the police. (0:16)

King2: Because we were recognizing that a lot of our teens were having some struggles when it came to dealing with law enforcement in the neighborhood. (0:07)

ELDRIDGE 3: The program – called Connections – has been running for over a decade, but this month King and the NYPD are using a new tactic – role reversal. The goal of the meeting: (0:09)

King 3: Most importantly we want all the badges that are in here to recognizethat at one time you were fourteen too, and what a fourteen year old does is what a fourteen year old does. (0:09)

ELDRIDGE 4: With the room full of various officers from the New York City Police Department and youth from elementary to high school, King’s program tackled a longstanding community concern – stop and frisk. (0:12)

King 4: Stop and frisk became the issue of the day for the city of New York and relationships were crumbling faster than we could breathe. (0:07)

ELDRIDGE 5: With the added role play, the youth got a behind the scenes understanding, starting with a lesson straight from the police academy. (0:06)

Ross 1: There are some people that will tell you that stop question and frisk is now unconstitutional. That is not true. That was actually overturned.Stop question and frisk was always constitutional because the Supreme Court, via Terry vs Ohio said so. (0:18)

ELDRIDGE 6: Officer Keith Ross is an instructor at the police academy. He is responsible for the mandatory law class cadets take. The class at the academy is designed to prepare officers to appropriately enforce the law. The lesson at the Connections meeting is a bit different. Ross made it clear that his goal is to distill the controversy around stop and frisk and also give the youth a better understanding of their rights when interacting with the police. With a volunteer from the audience, Ross demonstrates a key distinction. (0:27)

Ross2: Here’s the difference between a frisk and a search. If I’m frisking a person, what I’m doing is using my hand and going over the outermost layer of clothing. Now I feel something here, and if I feel that this is a weapon, this frisk can now escalate to a search. (0:20)

ELDRIDGE 7: Although the meeting was heavy on the perspective of a police officer’s experience, the youth came away with key lessons. Amear ReTray, An 11th grader at the meeting, shared what she learned. (0:09)

ReTray2: No matter if you’re someone with the high rank of an officer or if you’re someone who just walks the street and goes to school – we all should get the same respect. (0:09)

ELDRIDGE 8: Perhaps respect is the first step towards a safer Bronx for everyone. Taylor Eldridge, Columbia Radio News. (0:06)

Taylor Eldridge is a master’s candidate in the investigative program at Columbia Journalism School. Follow her at @aviewfromtridge.


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