From dress shoes and socks to suits, ties and cuff links, the NYPD is helping teens attend prom in style this year with its inaugural Prom King initiative.
The program is the brainchild of NYPD Sgt. Taneisha McLaughlin and Lt. Quathisha Epps, who have worked to drum up donations from various police divisions as well as community stakeholders.
With organizations like Operation Prom and Project G.L.A.M. helping young women with dresses for prom, McLaughlin said she was inspired to help young men in the same way.
“The girls always have a prom queen and the attire,” McLaughlin said Friday. “I thought it would be nice to give [the boys] the same experience that the ladies get to do.”
The pair has collected enough donations to fully dress as many as 150 seniors who are hoping to attend their prom but do not have the proper attire. Donations of dress shirts, ties, bow ties, belts and even cologne also have poured in, according to McLaughlin.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of ties. . .full suits with multiple shirts. We have about 200 to 250 shirts,” she added.
The donation drive will culminate with an event on Saturday at the Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where students can pick up a suit as well as get a free haircut from a barber and learn how to tie a tie properly.
The concept of creating the Prom King initiative began during an NYPD Guardians Association meeting, when McLaughlin and Epps spoke up with similar ideas to help the communities they work in. NYPD Guardians Association President Detective Felicia Richards suggested the two work together on a department-wide effort.
“I thought that was a great idea,” Richards said. “We did a call out for everybody: go through your closet, donate and see what could happen.”
McLaughlin said they initially collected donations within the police department, which “was a great success,” but then groups outside of the NYPD heard about the initiative and wanted to get involved.
“The Staten Island Community Council donated $500,” she said. “We have an MTA train conductor who donated dress socks.”
Richards said she expects people from the community to show up with donations on Saturday, as well.
The Boys and Girls High School event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will offer more than just clothes, style tips and refreshments. CUNY Medgar Evers College and the College of Technology will have representatives there to help teens understand the requirements to enter college, and the NYPD will provide information on positions available to young adults after graduation.
“We’ll be supplying folders that will have three career opportunities available to students at the age of 18: school safety agent, crossing guard and traffic agent,” McLaughlin said.
The event also is an opportunity to get the community to interact with the NYPD in a positive way.
“This would not have been possible if Felicia didn’t believe in this and the divisions didn’t get involved,” McLaughlin added. “[Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison] 150 percent backed this program.”