Program allows NYPD officers, community to have important discussions


Six years ago, the Eric Garner protests riveted the city, and actor Terry Greiss.

Program allows NYPD officers, community to have important discussions

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Months of unrest were enough for Greiss to co-found a program ‘To Protect, Serve, and Understand’ five years ago, getting seven NYPD officers and community members were in a room sharing beliefs and role-playing. At first, the meetings were held in person, but they are now on zoom due to COVID. The discussions are difficult.

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The program is ten weeks long. Greiss says it’s not easy – participants need to be dedicated, need to be willing to hear what they don’t want to hear, and also be willing to understand another perspective.

NYPD Officer Miguel Van-Brakle is an alumni of the program now.

“Some struggles were having to converse with people who had radically different points of view,” said Van-Brakle.

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The department chose Officer Van-Brakle after he received a few complaints. The program is a life-changer, especially at a recent protest, when a woman began heckling him.

“I realized this is that subject in real life – after a while she realized she wasn’t getting the rise that she wanted, and she moved on,” Van-Brakle added.

The mission accomplished by a moment of calm, understanding and respect.

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