NYPD Housing Officers are hoping to change lives and save some along the way with a computer lab they've opened in Brooklyn. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Trying to replace handcuffs with keyboards is all part of an effort by the police department with the Brownsville Learning Lab. The space was set up with funding from the NYPD to go hand-in-hand with what's called the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program or J-RIP.
"We work with the judges, we work with the Brooklyn DA's office, all of our legal partners in family court and we try to give these kids programs so that we are not sticking them with criminal records to taint them the rest of their lives," said NYPD Lieutenant David Glassberg.
One alternative is the learning lab. Young people who have been arrested are encouraged to come, but the lab is open to anyone. The program is a collaboration between the NYPD, The Center for Court Innovation and The Brownsville Community Justice Center.
"I think just being able to provide a safe place for someone to just come in and just be themselves and work on a computer. Or maybe they don't feel safe outside and they just need some place to go," said Brownsville Community Justice Center Program Associate Ionna Jimenez.
"You build your resume, you need help with your home work, some people can get tutors. This place will help you with all of that," said Dante Kearse, a peer mentor.
After trying unsuccessfully to get his GED, David Echols finally passed the exam with tutoring at the lab.
"I have been out of school for like five or six years. But I told myself not matter what I go through or no matter what I have to do to get my GED, I was going to do it. I just had that ambition," Echols said.
He admits the officers involved in the program have helped him to stay out of trouble in recent years. The same goes for Ramell Smith, who now works for the Housing Authority.
"They even helped me get a job from NYCHA, which was a temporary program which they just called me back. Now, I am a permanent worker in NYCHA and ever since then I have been getting back on my feet and doing better things," Smith said.
"This is not easy, this is hard work. We have plenty of wins and we have plenty of losses. But it's with hard work all of these kids deserve a chance," Glassberg said.