A group of 35 students, police officers, business leaders and other local officials gathered Nov. 10 for an Empowerment Dinner, designed to improve relationships between law enforcement and young people in Newark.
The event was one of two winning entries in a competition sponsored and funded by the Newark Police Foundation as a way to prompt the Police Department to improve its outreach to the city’s youth. All six Newark police precincts were encouraged to create initiatives to accomplish that goal. The Empowerment Dinner was created by the 6th Precinct. The other winning entry in the Cops and Kids Community Policing Contest, Theater Day for Youth with Special Needs, was the handiwork of the 7th Precinct. The programs will be replicated in each precinct with funds from the foundation.
“Relationship building requires commitment and face to face engagement — one police officer at a time, one resident at a time, one day at a time — over and over for years and years, and not only in the wake of tragedy,” said Christopher Porrino, a former state attorney general and the chairman of the Newark Police Foundation. “These winning initiatives will build trust by allowing hundreds of police officers and children to connect in a friendly way. I commend the men and women of the Newark Police Division for their hard work and dedication to their community.” Porrino is now a partner at Roseland’s Lowenstein Sandler.
During the Empowerment Dinner, Tami Claytor, the owner of Always Appropriate: Image & Etiquette Consulting, presented a hands-on fine dining etiquette presentation and workshop. Officers and kids engaged in icebreakers, used conversation starters to encourage discussion and were asked to discuss what they learned during the dinner. Each child also received gifts, giveaways and certificates from the officers.
“We thank the Newark Police Foundation’s Chairman Christopher Porrino and his team for their visionary leadership in steering these successful community service projects,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who attended the dinner. “The City of Newark is impressed by both winning initiatives created by Newark Police Community Service Officers from the 6th and 7th precincts. Each project brilliantly partners Newark’s youth with caring police officers who are fully invested in offering creative programs that provide lasting, positive experiences to the next generation of Newark leaders.”
Among the officials also in attendance were state Attorney General Matthew Platkin and Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé.
“The Newark Police Foundation is taking the next step and bringing innovative youth engagement efforts to our State’s largest city,” Platkin said. “It was my pleasure to join Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark Police Director Fritz Fragé and former Attorney General Chris Porrino who serves as the chair of Foundation to be part of the Sixth Precinct’s Inaugural Empowerment Dinner. Bringing young people together with law enforcement, and business and community leaders for engagement opportunities will have a lasting benefit to the community and our youth.”
The first Theater Day for Youth with Special Needs will be held Nov. 12, when the youngsters will enjoy a sensory-friendly screening of Wakanda Forever at CityPlex12.