Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct

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image010The East Harlem Center was crawling with cops on the night of January 27th, and the community could not have been happier. The East Harlem Head Start hosted an informational forum titled, "Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct." The forum was held in response to some neighborhood safety concerns. Over the last few years, the East Harlem Head Start program has been working on building better relationships between their immigrant families and the local police officers. There have been neighborhood safety concerns around the fact that many serious crimes have gone unreported by immigrant families due to fear of deportation, misinformation and a general lack of knowledge of available resources.

In collaboration with the 23rd Precinct, NYPD administration, the District Attorney's Office and Senator Serrano, the Forum addressed many of the families concerns and aimed at clearing up confusion. Topics included:  distinction between NYPD and Immigration, Executive Order 41, 311 vs. 911, acceptable forms of ID, resources throughout the police department, and general public safety tips. A representative from the 2010 Census also spoke about the importance of being counted in the upcoming Census. panel

A strong panel of presenters were able to provide a significant amount of information and answers to the audience's questions. Presenters included: Senator Jose M. Serrano (New York State Senator for the 28th District); Chief Philip Banks III (Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan North); Deputy Inspector William Pla (Commanding Officer of the 23rd Precinct); Captain Santana (Executive Officer - 23rd Precinct); Sgt. Gary Giersbach (Commanding Officer of the Youth Office – 23rd Precinct); Officer Oliver Matos (Youth Officer -23rd Precinct); Officer Frank Galindo (Community Affairs Officer-23rd Precinct); Officer Miguel Murphy (Community Affairs Officer 23rd Precinct); Officer Rios (Domestic Violence - 23rd Precinct); Sgt.  Lizbeth Villafane (Commanding Officer of the New Immigrant Outreach Unit); Chief Coppuchi (PSA5 Housing); Maria De La Rosa (Deputy Director of Community Affairs for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office); Cesar Vasquez:  (23rd Precinct’s Community Council President); Andres Mares Muro (U.S. Census Bureau).

Head Start parents Nicole McClammy and Brenda Colon introduced the panelists and Maria Diaz shared a success story from working with the Precinct.

The audience appreciated the strong NYPD presence and the beginning of an important on-going dialogue about how to build more trusting relationships throughout the community. A follow-up forum, focusing specifically on immigration issues, is being planned for March.