Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Rev. Al Sharpton and other community leaders joined the newest members of the New York City Police Department in Harlem Tuesday as they began a four-day workshop aimed at improving community relations. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Marching along 125th Street in Harlem, 1,200 New York City Police Department recruits made their way to the Apollo Theater to get straightforward talk about policing from black and Latino communities.
"We've talked in these sessions about out disagreements, stop-and-frisk or whatever," said Rev. Al Sharpton. "We've never been censored or inhibited from saying what we have to say, but at the same time toward a goal of making this city better for all."
Right before an academy class graduates, the NYPD brings in community leaders and teenagers to talk directly to the soon-to-be officers.
"Their assessment of the state of relations between the police department and the community," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "Any personal experiences they had and any recommendations they have to improve those relations."
"I have said an awful lot about them in the street," said Rev. Herbert Daughtry of the House of the Lord Church. "So the opportunity to say a whole lot to them in this setting, I always look forward to the occasion."
It seems recruits do, as well.
"From going from in the academy to be out on the streets, relating together is going to be one of the most important things that we do, in terms of our relationship with the community," said Joseph Belokopitsky, an NYPD recruit.
With this latest class, the NYPD now has more than 34,000 uniformed members. This group has already jumped into action, helping out during Hurricane Sandy. The NYPD did get a boost to its image because of heroic officers.
"During that period of time of the storm, the police were critical with keeping all of us safe, and we were not afraid of them," said Margarita Lopez, a Housing Authority board member.
The 1,200 recruits are set to graduate on December 28 and will hit the streets on New Year's Eve.