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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the Raleigh (North Carolina) Police Department as the July 2020 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest. The winning photo shows Sergeant Terrence Knuckles with a Raleigh Summer Youth Employment participant.
Learning how to tie a necktie is a rite of passage for many young men, and for Sgt. Terrence Knuckles of the Raleigh (North Carolina) Police Department (RPD), teaching the art of tying a good knot to the boys who had participated in the Raleigh Summer Youth Employment Program (RSYEP) was a pleasure.
Created by the Community Engagement Division of Raleigh’s Housing and Neighborhoods Department, RYSEP connects local teens with summer jobs that provide a paycheck as well as valuable training in life skills and mentoring by local lawyers, law enforcement officers, and other professionals.
Like the other teenage boys and girls who participated in RYSEP, the young man in the photograph was getting tips from RPD officers on proper business attire making a good impression on a job interview in the program’s “Tie and Bow Tie” class. After dressing for success, the young men and women attended the annual Lunch with Professionals. Hosted by the RPD and the Wake County Bar Association, the lunch brings the kids together with representatives from a variety of careers and workplaces including RPD administrative staff, to talk about education, career choices, and networking.
Asked about his involvement in the program, Sgt. Knuckles says, “I really enjoy getting to know these kids, building relationships with them,” adding that in more than the 20 years on the force—first as a patrol officer and now as a member of the southwest district’s community squad—he has become very connected to the young people who live there. But the people he is most involved with are college students who attend nearby schools and live in the district’s rental properties and the individuals who manage those buildings. Though the community is a safe one, loud parties, illegal drinking, emotional stress, and addiction or substance abuse are common problems.
To address them, Sgt. Knuckles and the other two officers in the community squad built strong relationships with the students, property managers, and university personnel and created a network that connected all of them with the RPD.
“It’s a great working relationship,” he says. “We work with the student life departments, tying them in with apartment complex managers. This way, we can mitigate problems, preventing incidents from becoming law enforcement problems.”
Asked what he likes about community policing, Sgt. Knuckles replies, “I like fixing people’s problems. Instead of just responding to 911 calls, you can take time to observe what’s going on and work with the people and other city and RPD departments to address it. If you get to know people, they will reach out to ask how to handle a situation rather than letting it grow. It really does decrease problems.“
He likes the collaborating aspect of community policing, too, working with other RPD departments as well as the schools and property owners. “Patrol officers may see something I missed and suggest a good solution. We work with the city too. I might ask them to cut down shrubs or increase lighting to improve an unsafe area that a property owner doesn’t have the resources to do. Collaboration lets us accomplish things we can’t on our own.”
Community policing is an integral part of the RPD’s overall approach to supporting public safety and order, reflected in all operations as well as many programs in addition to Summer Youth Employment.
Says April Adams, the RPD Youth Services Coordinator, “We work with a number of city departments to provide services, such as the Leaders of Tomorrow program and a digital connectors camp that teaches local kids how to code and create web sites, and connects them with mentors from IBM, Google, and other tech companies.”
Like Adams, Sgt. Knuckles is proud of what the RPD does for area youth. “I feel very good about these programs,” he says. “You’ve got to engage with kids. How you treat them makes a huge difference in how you relate to them when they are adults.If you break the cycle of fear, and they grow up to be citizens who are not afraid to approach law enforcement to work problems out, their kids won’t be either.”
Written with contributions from Sergeant Terrence Knuckles and April Adams, Youth Coordinator of the Raleigh Police Department (RPD). Photo Courtesy of the RPD, which submitted this entry to the photo contest.
Senior Technical Writer
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