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Yonkers P.A.L. Intro to Public Safety

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Over the past year, and in light of the current state of the relationship between the public and law enforcement throughout the country, P.O. C.J. Bowen has been putting together a program designed to foster understanding between the police and the public in a more substantial and impactful way.  This program would show the perspective of law enforcement to people, young people in particular, in an effort to help them understand the ins and outs of every day police work and life.  By giving people the potential to see things from a police officer’s point of view, you can fill in some of the gaps that exist in the public’s understanding when the only thing people are exposed to are negative stories on news and social media, and grand juries returning without charging officers months or years later.  Through consistent contact and joint activities with the Yonkers Fire Department, it became clear that there was also a desire from their end to accomplish the same goal.

For the inaugural session of what eventually became known as “Yonkers P.A.L. Intro to Public Safety”, the Yonkers P.A.L. partnered with the Yonkers Police Department, Yonkers Fire Department and Yonkers Montessori Academy for their Intersession program.  Intersession is a program where students participate in an intense, week-long, deep dive study in a particular field.  One of this year’s subjects available to students was Public Safety, so it became a natural fit to integrate these two programs together.

These students who signed up (about 50 total) were split into two groups and transported by bus on day one to two locations: Group A went to the Training Division in the Y.P.D.’s First Precinct and were given a brief intro to the “Youth Police Academy” as well as lessons in defensive tactics, handcuffing and were also allowed to use the F.A.T.S. (FireArm Training Simulator) Machine by Lt. Vincent Castelli as well as Training Division staff.  Group B was brought to the Yonkers P.A.L. and given certification classes in First Aid/C.P.R./A.E.D./Heimlich Maneuver by JAG Physical Therapy.  On day two, the groups were flipped and brought to the opposite location.

On day three, all 50 students were brought to the P.A.L. and again split, half speaking with the Lt. Scott Denet of the Yonkers Fire Department about Fire Prevention and experiencing the “Smoke Trailer” and the other half attending a Forensics course taught by Adjunct Professor and retired public school teacher John Romano.  The groups were addressed over lunch by retired Chief Eric Dronzek of the Yonkers Fire Dept. about life choices and working hard towards your goals.

On day four, all 50 kids were shown proper push-up and pull-up technique and then each participated in physical training and were given a boxing lesson by P.O. Bowen.  Detective Dale Hughes, who is the Vice President of the Yonkers P.B.A., then spoke with the kids about his years of experience and the different roles that patrol officers, plainclothes officers and detectives play as well as an overview of what the P.B.A. is and does within the city of Yonkers.

The afternoon was spent putting the training they had received all week into practice, when the students became police officers and participated in scenarios acted out by Detective Hughes and P.O. Bowen as well as the Y.M.A. teaching staff.  Sgt. Charles Walker of the Y.P.D.’s Third Precinct then spoke with the students about the role of a supervisor within the police department.

On the fifth and final day, multiple different units of the Yonkers Police Department came in and shared their experience and what services their specific units in the department perform.  First up, P.O.’s Barca and Pilot and K-9 Officer Ice did a bomb sniffing demonstration along with a Question and Answer session.  Next up was P.O.’s Smushko and Iriarte of the Emergency Services Unit who pulled their Emergency Service Truck right into the gym and allowed the students to get an inside look at all the equipment and tools available to law enforcement in the largest scale emergency situations.

P.O. Joe Matthews from the Youth Crime Unit went next, and shared about the role of the Youth Division which deals with all suspects 15 and under as well as all missing persons in the city.  After lunch, P.O. Alex Bess of the Y.P.D.’s Fourth Precinct brought his radio car into the gym and spoke at length with the students about the role of patrol officers, as well as officer safety and the value of community relationships.

 

ll always remain paramount.

It should be noted that the costs of the program were extremely low for the participating students.  Their transportation was provided by the school and the food budget was split between the students who had previously fundraised $1000 (which covered the first three days of food from Stew Leonard’s) and the final two days were covered by the P.A.L.  JAG Physical Therapy donated two days of First Aid/C.P.R. lessons and allowed students the option to pay $25 to officially receive their certification.  Professor John Romano and all Yonkers Police and Fire staff donated their time each day in order to accomplish the goal of the program and further th

Feedback was overall very positive from the students and the staff, as well as the various people and groups who volunteered.  All in all, the students experienced an in depth, informative and eye-opening week that served to change opinions and clear up misconceptions.  In the future, this program will be modified to be repeated on a one night a week basis, and spread out over the course of six weeks but the goal of creating understanding and bridging knowledge gaps between the public and public safety professionals wi

e understanding and create better relationships between their respective departments and the community.

-P.O. C. Bowen #112 – Yonkers P.D./P.A.L.

“At first I joined the public safety intersession because it was free and I didn’t really want to do much for my first year of high school. The first day I just wanted to get the week over with, but when we arrived to our location the instructor told us that we will be learning CPR (Cardio pulmonary resuscitation). This was exciting because I was learning how to save lives !! The next day we went to the police station. There we learned the struggles of becoming a cop. The police men talk to us about school shootings and how it feels. They told everyone that they have to go in knowing that they are going to kill someone and that if they would shoot the school shooter in the knee or somewhere where they would not die, it would risk everyone else life because they would still have a chance to kill others. The next day went to the same place as the first day and we talked to a cop that was on patrol. He told us how dangerous it is in the street of Yonkers. The following day we were introduced to a fireman. He told us how to prevent a fire and how to stay safe in one. He also put us in a simulation in which we were shown how a real fire would look and feel like. The last day a lot police vehicles came and the cops gave us a tour. One of the cops even showed us their patrol dog. The patrol dogs were nice and sweet. The policeman demonstrated how they could use the dog to sniff out guns and bombs. That was truly one of my favorite parts of our trip. Later that day we were taught forensic science. They showed us bullets and how gun shots look. The bullets were heavy and smelled weird. The YMA public safety trip was an experience that I will never forget.”- Angelo Herrera, grade 9

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Yonkers P.A.L. Intro to Public Safety