NYC Together hinges on positive informal police/community interaction. The program, in partnership with the NYPD 90th Police Precinct and local public high schools, offers police officers the opportunity to work with young people from their communities as peers, collaborators, and mentors.
This type of informal police contact has been shown to improve police job approval ratings despite the presence of other negative perceptions and lessen negative impacts of formal police contact.
Weekly discussion groups offer participants the opportunity to explore topics such as intergenerational poverty, gun violence, community gentrification and deterioration, the school-to-prison pipeline, and police-youth relations. These discussion groups incorporate productive conversations about decision-making, conflict resolution, goal-setting, healthy relationships, and social-emotional literacy, all in collaboration with officers from the 90th Precinct. Officers gain first-hand knowledge of the issues and challenges facing today's youth, information that serves them well when engaging with young people outside of the program in the community. Additionally, officers provide assistance with schoolwork and targeted tutoring to program participants.
Students in the program, officers from the 90th precinct, and local stakeholders collaborate to identify and plan community-focused service learning projects. These innovative and highly visible projects promote a sense of teamwork, respect, and altruism for all involved. Furthermore, the projects emphasize the principles of restorative justice, allowing students the opportunity to repair the harm they may have caused leading up to their disciplinary infraction. Officers’ insight and knowledge of community needs are integral to ensuring the Together program and its participants are serving the community in a way that is sensitive to its circumstances and thus meaningful. Moreover, the service projects provide an entry point for officers to the community they may not have had before, establishing and strengthening positive relationships between the police precinct and community residents.
Together staff and the 90th Precinct work in partnership with multiple community-based organizations to establish and oversee the service learning projects that students and officers complete while building an ethic of engagement and leadership. Students and officers volunteer at beautification projects in the 90th Precinct, remove graffiti from local businesses and other neighborhood structures, prepare and serve food for the hungry, organize and lead read-aloud sessions for local students, among other community service projects. While students and officers strengthen positive relationships with each other, they also build relationships of familiarity and respect with community residents and stakeholders, increasing the sense of community investment and support across these three groups.
With focused methods, confident leadership and ambitious outcomes, Dana Rachlin has founded NYC Together. Prior to starting NYC Together, Dana worked for the Center for Court Innovation in various capacities to advance criminal justice practices used on youth offenders. She later served as the Director of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, supporting local businesses through networking, education, and advocacy.
Officer Kenneth Melendez
Officer Melendez joined the NYPD in July of 2010. From January 2011 thru 2013 Officer Melendez worked as an impact officer, placed in the high crime area of the 90th Precinct to protect and serve the community. In 2013, Officer Melendez worked the midnight shift on patrol giving him insight on what it takes to become a great police officer. In 2015 Officer Melendez joined NYC Together as the lead facilitating officer. In this role, Officer Melendez serves as a positive role model, mentor and source of support to the participants. Throughout his time with the program, Officer Melendez has honed in on his skillset to develop other community strengthening programs like a cops and kids basketball tournament to benefit breast cancer organizations.
Officer Carlos Posada
Officer Posada joined the NYPD under the school safety division in 2007 and quickly moved up to Level 2 school safety agent in January 2008 where he was part of a mobile response unit for all schools in Queens North. In 2011 Officer Posada took a promotional exam to become a police officer, being sworn in January 2012. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 83rd Precinct for impact patrol. In September 2013 he was moved to the 90th Precinct where he is currently working as a school officer. Officer Posada has a true passion for working with kids and this could be seen by his eagerness to join the school team. While at the 90th Precinct he has participated in various community outreach programs including a cops and kids basketball tournament for breast cancer awareness month and Blue Christmas in addition to being one of the lead facilitators of NYC Together.
Franny Civitano moved to NYC to be an actor after obtaining a BFA in Acting from UNC-Greensboro. She then went on to be the Program Director For Shotz, a monthly short play series with Amios, a downtown theater company. She's spent the last five years as the Marketing, Social Media and Operations Manager for the East River Ferry. She continues to try and find creative projects having to do with video, theater, and art. She is a Moth StorySLAM winner and GrandSLAM participant. Franny dabbles in community organizing with the L Train Coalition and the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce and is also a professional wedding officiate. Leveraging her deep ties to the community, Franny is committed to developing opportunities for students and officers that contribute to their success.
Brandi Barber believes that all children deserve enriched lives. She cares deeply that the advantages of our society are available to all young people. She is convinced that when members of neighborhoods collaborate to support and mentor and share resources with the youth lacking them, the entire community benefits. As the Community Liaison of NYC Together she seeks to provide the student participants and NYPD with culturally vibrant experiences and opportunities to engage in healthy activities. She looks for partners that share the mission of the organization and desire to encourage positive civic engagement not only in the members of the program but in themselves. Brandi is the lucky mother of four children, she lives with them and her husband in Brooklyn. Previously she worked for more than a decade as a print producer and casting director in the fashion advertising industry.