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Harlem Children Meet NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill

Posted on April 11, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Combatting Police Tensions & Gun Violence, Starting with Tiny Tots & Mounted Cops

Teaming up with Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., Fidelis Care and the NYPD, Catholic Charities NY takes police/ Harlem community tensions head on while battling back on gun violence, starting with the smallest members of our community.

Packed with more than 120 children ages 3 -10, Catholic Charities NY’s Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center auditorium in Harlem served as host site for an open forum and, basically, and open playground last Saturday, April 6, 2019, between New York Police Department Commissioner James P. O’Neill and the little tikes.  Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E and Fidelis Care co-sponsored the event. 

Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E has worked closely with Catholic Charities NY, holding numerous events at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center, ever since Jackie Rowe-Adams cofounded It.  Her goal, along with four fellow broken-hearted Harlem moms, has been to lessen the likelihood other mothers would have to confront the tragedy they faced .  

Ms. Rowe-Adams’ two sons, Anthony and Tyrone, were each murdered as the result of senseless gun violence. In Anthony’s case, two young men who believed Anthony was staring at them outside a Harlem bodega shot Anthony dead.  In Tyrone’s case, a thirteen-year-old involved in a robbery outside Tyrone’s apartment shot Tyrone to death. 

But a question from a little three-year-old girl not related to Ms. Rowe-Adams offered the specific impetus for Saturday’s event.  The preschooler mentioned she was afraid of the police, Ms. Rowe-Adams said at the event.  So, Ms. Rowe-Adams committed herself to finding a way to help Harlem children and police connect.

Based on children’s – and adults’ - laughs, giggles and smiles, she appeared to achieve her goal.  The five-hour event featured police horses, and dogs, mounted police and police on motorcycles.  It also featured regular favorites - all for free - including a bouncy house, double Dutch , musical chairs and lots of food.

Best of all, many said, was the children’s opportunity to speak individually and face-to-face with Commissioner O’Neill.  Seated in a low chair so he could speak with the children eye-to-eye, Commissioner O’Neill answered all the questions they peppered him with, questions ranging from why police carry guns to how old he was.

One of the commissioner’s favorite questions came from a tiny guy clad in a blue t-shirt.

“I’m seven years old and I have a question,” he said, grasping a microphone as he spoke with the commissioner seated next to him.  “How do you become a commissioner?”

Catholic Charities community centers offer wholesome activities for children and adults seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Find a center near you.