One day I was watching Real Sports on HBO. One segment showcased a police department in Watts, California. If you remember, after the Rodney King verdict, this neighborhood underwent a full-scale riot. The citizens in this community had extreme distrust for its police department.
Some officers took an initiative to try to create a positive relationship between police and the community they serve. A group of police officers reached out to the community and started forming football leagues for youths. After much persistence these officers managed to get parents to allow their children to participate.
What happened as a result of this outreach? The police saw that the rate of homicides (gang / gun violence} dropped by more than 50%. This was a direct result of a lessening of mistrust between the citizens and law enforcement. The citizens who would not give information about the homicides now were talking to police. As a direct result the number of unsolved homicides dropped by more than 50% and in turn most likely prevented some future homicides from occurring as those in gangs realized they could not count on community silence.
My idea for this community that I feel would be far more reaching is to use bicycles instead of football leagues as not everyone is cut out to be a football player. There are hundreds of children who during the summer months in our community have no bicycle or have a bicycle that needs a tube, tire or possibly brakes.
After seeing this segment on HBO of Real Sports, I started planning on building a summer program involving law enforcement and families in our community. When two officers approached me about donating a bicycle for someone who had unknowingly purchased a stolen bicycle and had it taken away, I felt this was a perfect opportunity to start helping those in our community.
East Syracuse Chevrolet has graciously agreed to help financially support this summer program. East Syracuse Chevrolet will also become a drop-off site for the community to bring bicycles for donation.
I live in and am proud of our city. I have trained to be a member of the Trauma Response Team. Through this organization, I was able to meet with Chief Fowler several times. I admire the Chief and the Syracuse Police Department for their efforts in community policing. I have also reached out to several officers who are equally enthused about being able to help the families they come in contact with.
My idea is for law enforcement and this organization to work as a team.
What our organization can provide is bicycles, tools and the supplies to fix them. Trucks, tools and a fully self-sustained repair trailer with supplies and air compressors are also available. Law enforcement volunteers would help organize repair and distribution days in our community. They would also identify special need families who could benefit by obtaining bicycles.
Police officers and citizens need to get to know each other. Having a Law Enforcement and Community Immersion Program will make it safer for both sides.
Jan Maloff, Corporate Officer of the Central New York Family Bicycle Giveaway