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NYPD Event Aims to Spread Harmony Between Police, Community

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With so much tension locally and nationally over police-community relationships, many are calling for a little harmony, and an event meant to spread that message was held Thursday. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Working hand and hand while sharing a laugh is not the way you usually see police officers, but this is what the New York City Police Department's Harmony Day is all about.

"For the kids to see the cops with their hair down, and seeing that cops are ordinary people and we do ordinary things and we're actually some fun people," said Chief James Secreto, commanding officer at NYPD Manhattan North.

NYPD Harmony Days are held across the city, with thousands of children participating. For some of the youngest, it may be their first up-close encounter with an officer.

"Quite often, police officers are responding to calls for help, for emergencies. Now, we have arranged a setting where it's just sheer interaction and having fun. No one's hurt, no one's sick," said Deputy Inspector Fausto Pichardo of the NYPD's 33rd Precinct.

For communities and officers in northern Manhattan, their day was held in Central Park, which allowed for plenty of others to witness the action.

"Since we have tourists and people from all over and local, get to see the police department in a different way than what they see on the news, maybe, or something like that. They get to see it in a positive factor," said Roger Thomas of the Central Park Precinct Community Council.

Clearly, the police-involved deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in the St. Louis area have some young adults wondering how they should view officers.

"Alright, the kids come, they enjoy this, but they go home and watch the news and see police brutality, and then they are confused. OK, so which one is it?" said one person who attended the event. "You don't know if they're with you or against you."

That statement led to an interesting conversation with an officer, something community leaders are encouraging.

"So I think it is an opportunity for a teachable moment, for adults and parents, guardians to talk to their children and talk about the role of the police officers in our community, and the opportunities of what level of exchange or interactions they may have with them from time to time," said Abena Smith of the 32nd Precinct Community Council.

Officers said the event of bringing police and kids together may actually help improve police-community relations years from now, and perhaps lead some of these kids to become police officers one day.

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