HARTFORD, Conn. – Despite the Travelers Championship being played without fans for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest sporting event in Connecticut still generated more than $1.6 million for charity.
And some of the funds quickly went to terrific use this week when the tournament and Hartford Foundation for Public Giving announced they were providing a two-year grant to the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing (CAP) and Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) to launch the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations (CIYPR) in Greater Hartford. CIYPR will enhance education and training delivered to police officers to assist them in balancing the demands of public safety and the best interests of youth and the Black and diverse communities.
The program is expected to begin in the fall and focus on police officers who have regular contact with young adults to the age of 24. CIYPR staff will integrate community perspectives on current policing to inform the curriculum and discussions with participating officers. At the conclusion of training, the officers will focus on a project intended to make lasting improvements in their departments’ relationships with young people and families in their respective communities.
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to join the Travelers Championship on funding this holistic, evidence-based approach to training officers on building meaningful relationships with young people and better supporting the community,” Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams said. “This program has received extensive support from local police departments throughout Greater Hartford as their buy-in and commitment are crucial to the long-term success of this important initiative.”
“The Capitol Region Chiefs of Police Association is honored to be working with the Center for Advanced Policing and the Tow Youth Justice Institute,” said Windsor Police Chief Donald Melanson, President of the Capitol Region Chiefs of Police Association. “Providing comprehensive training to expand our officers’ skills and ability to use a restorative approach in their interactions with our youth is vital to successful youth engagement. As seen throughout our nation, law enforcement must continue the important work of building trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve. Understanding the impact of trauma on youth and families and interacting with youth in conversation will go a long way toward bettering police – youth relations. These interactions will assist in developing lasting positive police relations to build a better future for all.”
Instruction will be given by University of New Haven faculty with expertise in youth justice, child development and community policing. The curriculum is focused on changing approaches to situations that arise in the field and strategies for deescalating them while integrating restorative justice approaches. It was developed by Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., director of the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and the university’s vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, who served 13 years as a deputy sheriff and has deep experience in police training; and Dr. Danielle Cooper, Ph.D., director of research for the Tow Youth Justice Institute and an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, whose research focuses on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.
“The Center for Advanced Policing is working to build bridges between the police and fragile communities through empathy, lived experiences, and training,” Dr. Boyd said. “Our focus will be on fostering relationships by showing respect for the members of our Black community, cultivating compassion and empowering officers to enact change in their departments as well as in the communities they serve.”
Dr. Cooper added: “This is an opportunity to bring together police with youth and their parents to address the pain and make a real connection around the issues, as well as the solutions.”
The grant will also fund community listening sessions and surveys to gather resident perspectives on police/community relations and ideas to improve policing practices led by Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP). IMRP’s work will support the development of a final report at the end of the year of the Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force of Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is a community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $795 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.