NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- At a time of increased tension between cops and some of the communities they serve, a program run by the Police Athletic League (PAL) may be more important now than ever before.
This is not a story about sports, but rather an acting program supported by one of PAL's most famous graduates: Tony Danza.
Danza has recruited his pals from the cast of his old sitcom "Taxi" to judge a virtual talent show going online Thursday evening May 20 at 7 p.m.
He said a beat cop in his old neighborhood of East New York "strongly suggested" he join the PAL when the future star was a teenager getting into trouble.
Today, he remains very much involved.
Half a century after Danza found a home at the PAL, and after he found fame on TV, he has decided to give back by trying to develop the stars of tomorrow.
"Kids and people develop when they perform, especially when they perform together," he said. "Because then it's hard to miss each other's humanity."
Kareem Brown is from the same Brooklyn neighborhood where Danza grew up, and the 17-year-old was skeptical of participating at first.
"I entered the program as a very shy, very shy kid, very taciturn," he said. "I wanted to talk to people, but over time, I've developed into a very outspoken man."
Brown was outspoken enough to question the value of a virtual talent show labeled "Cops vs Kids."
"We thought it was a little insensitive because of the racial climate right now surrounding police brutality," he said.
But Brown decided the benefits of the PAL acting program outweighed any concerns he had, so he's proceeding with the talent show.
"I love that the acting program at least tried to make an effort to bridge the gap between students of color and police officers," he said.
Perhaps most importantly, at a time time of increased tensions between cops and kids, a program like this can lead to greater understanding.
"I've had the opportunity to cultivate strong relationships with some of the cops who are associated with the PAL acting program," Brown said. "And I would never have had that opportunity if I hadn't joined the program."
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