Police Commissioner Shea and Mayor de Blasio Announce NYPD Kids First

June 24, 2021

Vision to Increase Opportunity for NYC Kids and Keep All Neighborhoods Safe

New York, New York – Today, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Mayor de Blasio joined community leaders and young people to announce NYPD Kids First. NYPD Kids First builds on the Police Commissioner’s mission to take Neighborhood Policing to the next level through initiatives to protect and serve all New York City kids.

Central to this work is connecting with kids in New York, before any potential entanglements with the criminal justice system can occur or take root. The aim is to broaden kids’ horizons, identify appropriate resources and discover pathways to opportunities that help kids reach their full potential.

In January, 2020, Commissioner Shea announced the establishment of Youth Coordination Officers as well as efforts to leverage underutilized spaces across New York City to engage kids in meaningful ways.

During the last year and a half, the city has experienced a perfect storm with unprecedented events. However, as the city emerges from these crises, the NYPD has remained focused on its critical Kids First vision. Central to NYPD Kids First is a collaborative effort with other city agencies, law enforcement partners, community leaders, clergy and more. Kids First draws on talented, committed NYPD personnel, and their accumulated previous encounters with young people to make a lasting and positive difference in their lives.

By fostering meaningful connections with teenagers and equipping our officers with the resources to connect them with critical services, NYPD police officers will work toward our common goal of keeping all kids safe.

Under the direction of Commissioner Shea, Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships Chauncey Parker is leading the youth strategy work for the NYPD. NYPD Kids First encompasses a range of programs to expand opportunity for young people – but it is more than any one program or series of initiatives. It is a philosophy running through the Department. It also serves as a crime prevention strategy, by connecting kids with employment opportunities, new skills and invaluable mentorship opportunities with members of the Department.

Key efforts as part of NYPD Kids First include:

Chief of Department’s Youth Forum

Program Description: A series of at least 20 biweekly conversational forums with community partners and adolescent attendees. It focuses on connecting children from New York City communities experiencing crime plateaus with adults who have survived or overcome challenges to rise up as authentic voices from those same neighborhoods. These meetings are intimate in nature, featuring deep conversations that focus on sparking sustainable, long-term relationships with kids. Leading the conversations is Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, who shares his unique story of growing up in Queens and tells of his trajectory of having an initially poor outlook on the profession to becoming the highest uniformed officer in the country’s largest municipal police department. The NYPD is a facilitator in this initiative, helping to build partnerships for children that open pathways for their financial literacy, emotional awareness and a lifetime of enrichment.

Blue Chips Program

Through mentorship, personal enrichment and sports, this program focuses on bridging the gap between the police and youth. Blue Chips provides the opportunity to impact the lives of thousands of youth across the city. Blue Chips is a coed program open to kids ages 12-17 and 13-16 to play in a Basketball League. Teams citywide will consist of 12 players with two coaches who are members of service. Each team will play six regular season games; the top team from each patrol borough will move on to the playoffs. Blue Chips will promote locations designated by Saturday Night Lights and Activating Spaces to provide additional engagement opportunities. Precinct Youth Coordination Officers will assist members of service Coaches in recruiting youth for the program. There is also a mentoring component, community problem solving component and youth development with guest speakers. Additional mentoring opportunities involve career development such as college fairs and tutoring.

Options Program

The New York City Police Foundation and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) established the Options program, which helps New York City youth build decision-making skills and access career-development opportunities through a series of workshops, training programs and internships. By partnering together, NYPD officers and youth participants in the program are having authentic, thoughtful, and productive discussions regarding real-life situations and challenges that young New Yorkers are facing. The Options curriculum was designed to create better outcomes and utilizes cutting edge virtual reality technology, while also enhancing emotional intelligence, developing de-escalation techniques, and strengthening the situational awareness of its participants. Classes provided through the Options program include, but are not limited to, Financial Management, Wig Making, Coding, Podcast and Photo and Web Design.

Summer Youth Employment Program

The Summer Youth Employment Program is administered by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), with applicants being selected by lottery. The NYPD partners with DYCD to provide youth ages 14-24 with paid summer employment. Participants are also provided workshops on financial literacy, career exploration, job readiness and opportunities for social and educational growth. For the first time, all NYPD precincts, PSA’s, transit districts and specialty units will have students for a record total of 762 students for summer 2021.

Field of Dreams – NYCHA Basketball Courts and more

Using asset forfeiture funds, the NYPD is working closely with NYCHA and other community leaders to renovate 15 NYCHA basketball courts with new surfaces and paint, backboards, rims or soccer pitches. These courts are opening on a rolling basis and the majority will open by July 2021. This partnership between NYPD, NYCHA and other community leaders is an effort to rehabilitate NYCHA basketball courts. There is also an effort underway to launch a new soccer pitch at the Colonel Charles Young Park in Harlem. In addition, the NYPD, together with NYC Parks and the Mayor’s Fund, will launch a new soccer pitch and four renovated basketball courts at the Colonel Charles Young Park in Harlem.

Saturday Night Lights

The NYPD, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the NYC District Attorney’s Officers and other city partner agencies are expanding the Saturday Night Lights program to 100 gyms to provide free sports programs for young people across the City beginning Summer 2021. Enrichment and sports programs for youth ages 12-19 launch July 10, 2021 on Saturday evenings in 100 locations across the city. YCOs will be participating with community based organizations. This program will run through June 30, 2022.

Please see our short film, titled, “Kids Are Back,” which captures the excitement of the initiatives and the scope of our efforts. Narrated largely by New York City youths, we think you will like it.

Kids Are Back video