Fourteen police officers from seven municipalities are the first-ever graduates from the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations, from which they will go back to their communities with their own programs that will benefit the local youth and help build strong relationships, officials said.
The University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and Tow Youth Justice Institute held the graduation last week at the Hartford Public Library.
This initiative was designed to provide education to police to help them balance “the demands of public safety and the best interests of youth and the Black and diverse communities,” according to an announcement issued by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving which, along with the Travelers Championship, provided a two-year, $400,000 grant to launch the program.
Officers from Hartford, West Hartford, East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, Windsor, and the University of Connecticut completed the training, which lasted eight months. Led by UNH faculty, the curriculum included approaching and de-escalating situations in the field, the foundation said.
The program was developed by Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, director of the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and the university’s vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, and Dr. Danielle Cooper, director of research for the Tow Youth Justice Institute and an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
Boyd has 13 years of experience as a deputy sheriff and in police training, while Cooper’s research focuses on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, according to the foundation.
The officers are working with their departments and other public offices to develop community outreach programs as a way to build relationships with young people in their areas.
Among the graduates and their initiatives:
- Officers Kory St. Pierre and Erika McNally of the Bristol Police Department will create a community engagement project where they will partner with juvenile review boards and Bristol’s Youth Services Department.
- Officers Marc Caruso and David Flores of the East Hartford Police Department will work with the Citizen and Adult Academy and Mayberry Elementary school to host a leadership program, where eight 5th grade students will be selected by the principal and school administration to lead the sessions.
- Officer Sue-Ellen Jobes of the Glastonbury Police Department will work with Glastonbury High School and OrangeTheory Fitness to address high school students in the community and their need for more access to group involvement with other youth and police.
- Captain Jeffrey Rousseau, Detective Kevin Small, and Sergeant Luan Bojka of the Hartford Police Department are partnering with the state attorney’s office and the Hartford School Safety Director for a community engagement project based on building trust for the Hartford Police and high school youth ages 13 to 18.
- Sergeant Rachael Levy of the University of Connecticut Police Department is working with the Husky Watch Program to include resources and information for students to get involved and expand their knowledge of community engagement as well as finding potential careers.
- West Hartford Police Officers Joe Hopkins, Peter Kisela, Nick Sanford and the Hanoc Center have put together a six-week program for students from 3rd to 8th grade. The program will focus on topics including social media, peer pressure, and substance abuse.
- Windsor Police Officers Carmelo Pena and Officer Edward Harris, along with the Sparks Program at the local high school, plan to start an outreach initiative to offer coaching and support to participating youth and other police officers.