Last year was a tough year for the 47th precinct, with 51 shootings in the northeast Bronx. But this year things are looking better. NY1’s Erin Clarke reports that the decrease in crime is due in part to efforts by the community leaders to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the people they police.
Rev. Que English of Bronx Christian Fellowship Church says the key to bringing the police and the community together is helping each see through the other's eyes.
"We start by humanizing who they are and in addition to that, dismantling possibly some of the false perception that police have toward community,” said Rev. English.
English did that in January, inviting NYPD top brass to her church for a forum with faith leaders from all over the city. But most of her work is concentrated in the 47th precinct which saw an uptick in violence last year.
She started a mentoring program for teens who've been in trouble with the law. And later this month, Bronx Shoots will begin its second year, a basketball tournament she organized that put rival gang members and police on the courts together.
"They're actually developing relations for the first time out of uniform, playing together, interacting, getting to know each other,” said Rev. English.
Last year, the 47th Precinct got a new commanding officer. One who made it a point to increase positive interaction between the police and community.
Inspector Ruel Stephenson started by giving out his personal cell phone number.
“They have a line of communication with the precinct,” said Stephenson.
He also requires his officers to start conversations and exchange information with community members when there isn’t a problem. It's a program called Building Bridges that encourages residents to make complaints and requires police to send out weekly updates and information on crime trends.
"It builds a level of confidence that you know 'Wow. I have a police officer that i can talk to,’” said Stephenson.
There have been a couple of firsts under Inspector Stephenson's watch. The 4-7 honored seniors at a dinner and the station house opened up its doors for a holiday toy drive.
"For people to see the precinct as their precinct,” said Stephenson.
And these community leaders say those kinds of events stick with people and make a difference.