Fresh out of the Police Academy, the city’s newest cops packed into the Apollo Theater in Harlem Tuesday for a lesson on cultural diversity and policing.
For the more than 1,500 officers who graduated from the academy last week, Tuesday’s panel-led discussion was the last bit of required curriculum before they hit the streets for their first assignment: securing Times Square during New Year’s Eve festivities.
For panel members, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and city Housing Authority board member Margarita Lopez, it was an opportunity to talk with the newest Finest about ways to improve the NYPD’s relationship with the community. Sharpton said most people are not “anti-police” but rather “anti-police misconduct, anti-police brutality.”
The panel–which was moderated by radio personality Mark Riley–grazed over a handful of subjects that included stop-and-frisk procedures, respect for civilians and abuse of power.
“There’s always going to be some tension, always going to be some friction,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters before the forum. “But generally speaking, I think our relations are good, but we strive to make them better.”
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a member of the panel, said the discussion can help prepare the new cops for the raw aspect of life they will encounter while working the beat.
“It’s a noble profession, protecting the people, caring for the people,” he said. “They will be dealing with the ugliest, meanest and nastiest part of humanity–and it will be difficult to sustain their original aspirations.”