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NEW YORK — A candid conversation, up close and personal with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, answering questions from students of color during the Eagle Academy’s 19th virtual town hall to discuss the state of our country, systemic racism, inequality and so much more.

“Where we are today, recognizing we have an awful lot of work to still do,” said Shea. “I think that middle ground is where we can get, not just New York City but really the country back to where we want to be.”

The meeting started with a survey, students grading the NYPD’s relationship with young people in the community. In that area the department came up short.

Shea agreed, saying he’s been on a mission to improve police/community relations, holding officers accountable when they do wrong also weighed heavy on the students.

“We’re trying hard to change that opinion, but not to change people’s minds, to do it the right way by showing them.”

During the height of civil unrest and the racial justice protests in the city, Eagle Academy students wrote their thoughts in an op-ed about justice for Black boys and their ongoing fight to end racism. 

Eagle Academy Founder David Banks felt this was a great experience.

“This was so positive, inspiring them,” he said.

Both sides agreed one of the best ways to see change is to be the example. Three Eagle Academy alums who are now police officers are doing just that. 

Officer Ariel Gonzalez of the 44th precinct is one of them.

“A lot of people don’t realize that not every cop is white,” Gonzalez said. “Brothers’ keeper is not only when you do something good but when you do something bad.”