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Three West Hartford Officers Among Graduates of Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations

Graduates of CIYPR. Courtesy photo

The inaugural CIYPR Cohort of 14 police officers from are from West Hartford as well as Hartford, East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, Windsor, and the University of Connecticut.

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The University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and Tow Youth Justice Institute held the first graduation ceremony for the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations on Friday afternoon at the Hartford Public Library. Fourteen officers from seven municipalities completed the training from a grant awarded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Travelers Championship.

The Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations is designed to enhance education and training delivered to police officers to assist them in balancing the demands of public safety and the best interests of youth and the Black and diverse communities. The curriculum is focused on changing approaches to situations that arise in the field and strategies for de-escalating them while integrating restorative justice approaches.

In June 2020, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Travelers Championship partnered to support a two-year, $400,000 grant to the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and Tow Youth Justice Institute to launch the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations in Greater Hartford.

The officers committed to participating in the intensive eight-month training program to help them understand the lived experiences of the youth they are policing and forge a working relationship with community groups in their areas.

The program is led by University of New Haven faculty with expertise in youth justice, child development, and community policing. The curriculum is focused on changing approaches to situations that arise in the field and strategies for deescalating them while integrating restorative justice approaches. It was developed by Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., 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, who served 13 years as a deputy sheriff and has deep experience in police training; and Dr. Danielle Cooper, Ph.D., director of research for the Tow Youth Justice Institute and an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, whose research focuses on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

With the training complete, the officers are now beginning community engagement projects intended to make lasting improvements in their departments’ relationships with young people and families in their respective communities.

  • West Hartford Police Officers Joe Hopkins, Peter Kisela, and Nick Sanford have organized a 6-week program with weekly meetings focused on third to eighth graders. Their partnership with the Hanoc Center will sustain their goal of community outreach, being involved with the community, and several important topics including social media, peer pressure, and substance abuse.
  • Officers Kory St. Pierre and Erika McNally of the Bristol Police Department are creating a community engagement project where they will partner with JRBs and Bristol’s Youth Services Department. The quarterly program will invite 15-20 other officers to participate in the trust-building events with the community.
  • Officers Marc Caruso and David Flores of the East Hartford Police Department will be working with Mayberry Elementary school to host a leadership program, where eight fifth grade students will be selected by the principal and school administration to lead the sessions. The Citizen and Adult Academy is part of the partnership, and the goal is to organize a group of police officers and teachers to join the Leadership program and make progress toward building trust between the community and police.
  • Officer Sue-Ellen Jobes of the Glastonbury Police Department will be addressing youth in the community that need more access to group involvement with other youth and police. Glastonbury High School, Orange Theory Fitness, and Glastonbury Police have agreed to a long term goal of fostering trust between youth and police. The program is intended for high school students, monthly meetings will take place where everyone can interact as a group and become confident in their trust with the community.
  • Captain Jeffrey Rousseau, Detective Kevin Small, and Sergeant Luan Bojka of the Hartford Police Department have developed a community engagement project based on trust building for the Hartford Police and high school youth aged 13 to 18. Partnerships between the state attorney’s office and the Hartford School Safety Director have been formed in support of the overall goal of trust-building outcomes and involvement between officers and youth.
  • Sergeant Rachael Levy of the University of Connecticut Police Department has developed a program in conjunction with the Husky Watch Program. Along with student employees and other police officers, they are revitalizing the program to include resources and supplemental information for students to get involved and expand their knowledge of community engagement, and work towards finding a career path that is right for them.
  • Windsor Police Officers Carmelo Pena and Officer Edward Harris have partnered with the Sparks Program at the local high school to start a collaborative youth program. The goal is to offer coaching and support to participating youth, and other police officers.

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