New program in Newark to improve relations between cops and kids

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A new program in Newark aims to build bridges between police officers and children.

It hopes to spark conversation and create positive interactions between cops and kids.

Many of the officers are going the extra mile to improve community relations.

They, along with a lot of young people, are participating in the Cops and Kids program, trying to transform the sometimes tense dynamic between police officers and the Newark neighborhoods they serve.

"Better relations with the community means safety for police officers, it means more arrests in our community, solving more crimes, it means a better climate for all of us in the city," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

The program uses performance art to foster a discussion between two often distinct groups of people, cops and inner city youth.
The program has been underway in New York City but now they're rolling out the red carpet for cops and kids in Newark.

"The community wants the cops and kids to get together and to produce something, and to provide leadership for a new way," said community organizer Dr. Lenora Fulani.

The Newark Police Department hails this as an opportunity for better understanding on both sides.

"It's about trust," said Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. "I think it's about changing the perceptions of police and kids and the community."

The Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids program is run by the non-profit All Stars Project.

Newark's youth and public officials hope this will change attitudes on the streets along with reducing crime, fear and apprehension by cops and kids.

Ambrose says all future recruits will be part of the Cops and Kids program.
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