Forty-seven recruits to the Cleveland Police Department have a new outlook on some of the city’s communities, thanks to the Reverse Ride-Along project coordinated by Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood; Jan Thrope, community activist and founder of Inner Visions Cleveland; Jerry Pena of Neighborhood Connections; and Barbara Anderson, chair of Another Chance of Ohio.
The program is a re-imagining of the traditional police ride along as it reverses roles and enables the community to set the tone and tour stops highlighting people, places and resources they would like to introduce to Cleveland’s newest police officers.
Through visits to community centers and conversations with residents, the recruits had the opportunity to learn more about what some of Cleveland’s neighborhoods have to offer, and how police can work together with the community.
“The tour changed my thoughts,” said one recruit in a follow-up survey. “Seeing how the community is willing to help bridge the gap shows great strides in a positive direction.”
Recruits spent time during their morning at William Patrick Day in Central, reading books to young children and engaging in conversation with residents that focused on working together to ensure the safety of neighborhood children.
“This helped show me that the community is eager to speak to us and has many ideas about how we can help,” said another recruit. “We just have to listen.”
The group visited the Rid-All Green Partnership, an anchor in Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone. A stop in Glenville yielded a conversation with the Peacemakers Alliance, and over lunch at Third Federal, recruits learned about Slavic Village’s p-16 cradle to career initiative.
At the Cudell Recreation Center, one of the recruits met a student who has roots in the same Middle Eastern city. Through a conversation in Arabic, the two connected and embraced before the recruits left.
“We started the Reverse Ride-Along with the intention of showing the resilience and positivity that exists in Cleveland that these officers may never get a chance to see,” said Joe Black, Promise neighborhood engagement manager. “It just takes one conversation for both the officers and the residents to realize that we’re all working toward the same goals.”
A photographer from The Plain Dealer joined the group at a few of the stops. View more photos here.