Policing for community

April, 2022

Training initiative puts focus on serve and protect

By Gwendolyn Craig

A woman contacted Maj. R. Anthony Oliver, commander for the New York State Police in Ray Brook, seeking advice. Her son was about to take his driver license test. She asked Oliver if she should tape his registration to the front of the glove box.

The mother didn’t want her son—a child of color—killed for reaching into the compartment during a traffic stop, Oliver said.

“She’s been exposed to the news, the feeling of Black children or people of color have a high incidence of getting shot by the police,” he said. “That breaks my heart.” 

These sentiments are crushing for Oliver, not only because the 57-year-old has served for more than three decades, but also because he grew up feeling safe around police. His father was an officer.

“To me, when I’m around a police officer, it’s comforting,” Oliver said. “I feel safe, but not everybody does.”

Communities of color have experienced negative interactions with police for generations, said Lorenzo Boyd, a former police officer turned professor and law enforcement relations consultant. The result can lead to community trauma and vicarious trauma, where those negative images from historic events impact how people may act and feel around police.

Boyd works with communities and police agencies providing the points of view of both. Oliver and other area police officers met with Boyd in several discussions during an inaugural community policing initiative last year sponsored by the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. 

Boyd and his colleagues with Renz Consulting worked with 52 officers across the North Country. More are expected to participate this year including forest rangers and environmental conservation officers.

The training will cost $500,000 for five years. Private donors have funded the first two years. 

“The whole purpose of this training is to make a difference,” Boyd said. “We need to build bridges.”

Read the full article in the Adirondack Explorer.