BRICK – The Brick Township Police Department have announced the success of their brand-new program T.E.A.M., “Trust, Educate, Aspire, Mentor.”
Launched in October 2021, the program is held at the Maple Leaf Condominium Complex with a goal to create a trusting relationship between the local law enforcement and at-risk youth in an underrepresented neighborhood.
“We wanted to start a police-lead mentorship program in this neighborhood to develop good relationships with the youth, with parents, with people in the community, and we felt like some of these kids are a little underrepresented, underprivileged; there’s at-risk youth in this neighborhood. I know how important it is to have good role models and mentors, and I feel like I’m in a position that I can provide that,” Sgt. Jim Kelly said.
The program consists of police teaming up with teachers from the local high school, teenagers from other youth clubs, the Mayor’s administration, local civil rights activists, the interfaith community, and local businesses to give the youth from this neighborhood a place to be and things to do while building rapport and trust among the community.
Brick Chief of Police James Riccio expressed how he’s hoping the program can be expanded to more locations in town and hopes more children can be involved.
“My belief is the police department is only as successful as the relationship it has with the community. This program has allowed us to do that. We’re building those bridges, we’re building trust,” Chief Riccio said.
Earl Mosley from Brick Township Schools said every week, the program gives the kids something new to learn and focus on.
“Every week we have different focuses for the kids. We’ve done African American history; we’ve done some Latin American history. Stuff we can gather them and they get to talk,” Mosley said.
“When you need someone, who do you call? If you already know some people who can help you out, those are the people you reach out to,” Mosley added.
In a minidocumentary posted by the Police Department, one boy said that the program is fun because they get to eat and play games with other kids. Another boy said, “my favorite officer is Officer Sean because he’s the funniest one here.”
Ptl. Sean Flynn explained how the program will always be a place for the children to go when they need it.
“From the day that we started this program, we had an outpouring of support from the neighborhood and the importance of it is it gives these kids some place to come. It gives them someone to look up to. It gives them a great mentoring type of situation, and it’s just place from them to relax and smile and have fun,” Flynn said.
“We’re trying to bridge that gap between this specific neighborhood in the town and the law enforcement and trying to make it a more positive interaction as opposed to looking at law enforcement as a negative thing,” Brandi White of the Mayor’s administration said.
Mayor John G. Ducey discussed how important this project is and said he’s always behind the Chief’s ideas when it comes to community policing.
“Having the police officers out in the community, interacting with the kids, interacting with the residents, it’s just a way to establish relationships for the future and the good of the community as a whole,” Ducey said.