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New Initiative Seeks to Build Bridges Between Police and Youth

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What started out last fall with a series of informal discussions between executives from WestCOP and Robert Martin Company about the firm’s desire to seed a new community initiative fostering constructive dialogue surrounding racial and social injustice issues led to this week’s launch of Bridge Builders, a public-private partnership focused on developing and operating three Youth-Police Advisory Councils (YPACs) in Greenburgh, Elmsford, and Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.

Seeded with an initial $50,000 grant from Robert Martin Company, a leading tristate real estate developer and management company, Bridge Builders utilizes models recommended by President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force to help facilitate positive interactions and foster open communications between local police officers and youth of color with the goal of establishing long-term relationships to address racial and social injustice issues.

Bridge Builders held its first Annual Summit on Wednesday featuring several notable speakers addressing an audience comprised of numerous law enforcement officials, school district leaders, area youth, community center and non-profit representatives, municipal officials, and business leaders. Summit speakers for the virtual program   included: Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah; Attorney at Law and Co-Chairman of the Westchester County Police Reform Taskforce, Mayo Bartlett; Greenburgh Chief of Police Christopher McNerney; Tarrytown Superintendent of Schools Christopher Borsari; and several students from local school districts participating in the Bridge Builders program.

“Robert Martin Company came to us with the concept for creating a series of local police-youth councils, but their ideas and investment were matched with a genuine desire to ultimately have WestCOP shape Bridge Builders based on community feedback rather than dictating the program’s final form,” noted WestCOP Executive Director Donnovon Beckford.

“Even in the middle of tackling a pandemic, the national events of last summer resonated with us and demonstrated a real need for business leaders to engage in racial and social injustice issues in a thoughtful and meaningful way,” stated Robert Martin Company CEO Tim Jones.

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