New Philadelphia Police Department recruits took part in training Monday to prepare them for how they might be perceived on the city’s streets.
Dubbed “Policing in a More Perfect Union,” one of the exercises brought together 80 soon-to-be officers with seniors from Constitution High School, a predominantly African-American school in Center City.
Police trainees at the event said media reports take an overly cynical view of cops, creating barriers between them and the public.
Cops sat in circles with high school students to discuss perception issues — and what can be done to combat stereotypes.
When a recruit asked student Shaquana Alberts if more positive stories about police heroism would influence her opinion of police, she said, well, it’s complicated.
“They just don’t do all bad things. Just some cops take advantage of their job, all cops don’t. Some cops are actually out here to help,” she said. “Some cops just take advantage because they got the badge and the gun.”
Alberts says seeing police in her community makes her feel safer. But, she added, that’s sometimes hard to square with stories she hears about police overreacting or accusations of police brutality.