45th Precinct seeks to expand youth mentoring program

“When police and kids work together they realize that they have a lot in common,” – Bob Bieder, 45th Precinct Community Council president about the precinct’s youth explorers program.

One Bronx police precinct is trying to connect with youth in a positive way.

The 45th Precinct is calling on youngsters from 14-years-old to 20-years-old to be a part of the precinct’s Law Enforcement Explorer’s program, which meets every Wednesday evening at the Barkley Avenue station house.

For youth in the precinct’s service area and beyond its borders, this is a chance for young people to have positive interactions with law enforcement officers, helping young adults “see the officers as fellow human beings,” according to an official NYPD description of the program.

“The Explorer is basically youth and law enforcement together, and they are seeing a little bit of how we operate day to day,” said 45th Precinct Community police officer John Souhrada.

Souhrada added: “They will have different leadership roles, and depending on the maturity level and the confidence that they show, they can hold ranks like sergeant or lieutenant, which many like to get.”

The program encompasses career orientation opportunities, leadership opportunities, social and outdoor experiences, personal physical fitness, field trips, local and national competitions, leadership roles and community service activities, awards and scholarships, said the community affairs officer.

NYPD Youth Explorers can be found at every precinct, and Souhrada said that many of the explorers take part in color guards and activities that involve marching, train for physical fitness in the same way NYPD cops do and have field trips, including to police events.

“The primary goal of the program is to help young adults choose a career path in law enforcement and to challenge them to become responsible citizens of their community,” said Souhrada.

The 45th Precinct’s Community Council’s president, Bob Bieder, said he was all on board with attracting NYPD Youth Explorers because it gives youth an opportunity to work with police and see that they aren’t very different from who they are.

If they want to follow a career in law enforcement, it gives them great opportunities, he said.

The program fosters better community and police relations, said Bieder.

Often police and young teenagers look at each other like they were completely different, and that once they get to work together they realize that they are just people like everyone else, and that they have a lot in common, said Bieder.

“It’s gives kids an opportunity to work with police,” he said, adding “For all of those reasons, anybody who is looking…to get their kids more discipline, find a place that is safe or to get involved in the community, it is a wonderful place for them to learn, have great role models and help them grow.”

The program meets at the precinct at 2877 Barkley Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday. Explorer programs at other precincts may meet at various times, said the community affairs officer.

For more information call Police Officer John Kiernan at (718) 822-5400.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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