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Youth from District of Columbia Housing Authority communities engaged police officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and the DCHA Office of Public Safety to kick-off a new  Conversation Over Pizzas (COPs) initiative.

COPs is a new community engagement and policing program intended to build relationships between police and the communities they serve. The event, held on July 28 at the community building in Capitol Riverfront, brought summer youth workers together with officers. The goal is to provide a positive platform for residents to engage in productive dialogue regarding public safety and other community matters.

“Since joining DCHA, I have held numerous town halls in all of DCHA’s communities to hear the customers’ perspectives on how DCHA can better serve them, I continue to hear from customers that they are concerned about public safety. There is no better way to learn more about their concerns and get some fresh ideas than to create an environment where police officers and youth speak directly to each other to come up with a comprehensive community policing strategy,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett. “These Conversations Over Pizzas help both sides understand each other, as well as their interests, and will foster trust and mutual respect between police and DCHA communities.”

DCHA youth sat at tables with facilitators from the Office of Resident Services. They discussed policing in their communities with police officers, shared their personal experiences, and gave their thoughts on improving community police relations.

Police officers also spoke to the crowd about the current political climate and conversations being had throughout the country about policing. They spoke to how it affects not only their professional, but also their personal lives since they have families in the community.

“What we are really trying to do is receive information from our youth and our community members…What can we do to better engage with them and better serve the community?” said DCHA Police Chief Joel Maupin. “Today was an excellent opportunity for DCHA and Metropolitan Police Department to hear from the youth themselves.” 

Several youth commented that this was the first time they were able to speak directly to police officers and that they were better able to relate to each other.

“What we want to do is continue these conversations,” said ORS Director Larry Williams. “Every solution starts with a conversation.”

The next COPs discussion will be held on Thursday, August 16 at 5 p.m. at Lincoln Heights, located at 400 50th Street, N.E.

 

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Last modified: 8/9/2018 11:50:00 AM