The New York Police Department will launch an initiative consolidating existing programs to build better relationships with young New Yorkers today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.
Dubbed “NYPD Kids First,” the effort will combine existing outreach efforts like the Law Enforcement Explorers and sports leagues with new offerings for Big Apple youngsters, but Hizzoner and the police commissioner remained vague on what exactly was different from existing youth programs.
“This is the future: policing with a lens on focusing on young people,” de Blasio said at his June 24 briefing. “To me this is the epitome of neighborhood policing, it’s taking neighborhood policing to the next level.”
The Department will expand the role of youth coordination officers, sports events, mentoring and career prep, and a robotics program in partnership with organizations like the New York City Police Foundation and private businesses, according to Commissioner Dermot Shea.
“There’s an awful lot that is new,” said Shea. “We are doing programs with robotics, we are doing programs mentoring, yes we are teaching kids how to draw up resumes, we’re teaching kids how to open up bank accounts, so there’s a whole umbrella of services that are now being provided.”
At his Thursday press briefing, the mayor showed off a short video promoting the new effort, with youngsters praising some of the existing programs, playing sports, or painting over graffiti on walls with cops.
The Department has also been opening basketball courts at public housing projects across the city in recent weeks.
Neither the mayor nor Shea said how much funds would be spent on the programs, noting that it would be paid for entirely by shifting existing Department resources.
The Police Department planned to formally launch the initiative at the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx at an afternoon event Thursday, and Shea hoped that the program will bring people together a year after the massive uprisings across the Five Boroughs against police brutality in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop.
“What I think about is the year or two we’ve had and sometimes a polarizing time,” Shea said. “Who could argue with putting the kids first.”