NYPD ‘Options’ program builds trust between teens and police

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NEW YORK — So much has changed from just one week before the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown hit New York City.

Though a lot has changed, the NYPD’s “Options” program still persists.

“Options” bridges relationships between police and some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.

With a rise in shootings and violence, it is needed now more than ever.

Just a few weeks before a worldwide pandemic and months before nationwide unrest over racial injustice and police brutality, there were NYC youth engaging in candid conversations with members of the NYPD.

The program has been two years running and bridges the gap between the police and the city’s dynamic youth.

“This is the new era of neighborhood policing, and we see that NYC has to open up a lot more and really start listening to the youth of tomorrow,” Det. Jason Anazagasty said.

A virtual reality program was also created, scripted and voiced by “Options” teens.

It includes real-life scenarios that play out through a virtual reality headset.

Their choices on how to handle cyberbullying, violence on the streets and so much are on full display — as are the consequences of those choices.

Det. Anazagasty helped create the program with the help of the Police Foundation and community schools and leaders.

He said “Options” is breaking barriers, and most importantly it is working.

While the ongoing pandemic has paused some planned expansions of the “Options” program to other parts of the country, Anazagasty said it will not stop in NYC and he hopes it will only grow.

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