University News

University of New Haven Receives Grant to Launch the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations in Greater Hartford

A two-year, $300,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Travelers Championship to the University’s Center for Advanced Policing and its Tow Youth Justice Institute will enhance education and training delivered to police officers to assist them in balancing the demands of public safety and the best interests of youth and Black and diverse communities.

July 1, 2020

Justice Leadership Development program
The University’s Tow Youth Justice Institute and the University's Center for Advanced Policing is launching the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations in Greater Hartford.

The University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and Tow Youth Justice Institute have received a two-year $300,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Travelers Championship to launch the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations (CIYPR) in Greater Hartford.

The CIYPR will be led by Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., director of the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and the University’s vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, who served 13 years as a deputy sheriff and has deep experience in police training; and Danielle Cooper, Ph.D., director of research for the Tow Youth Justice Institute and an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, whose research focuses on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

“The Center for Advanced Policing is working to build bridges between the police and fragile communities through empathy, lived experiences, and training,” said Dr. Boyd. “Our focus will be on fostering relationships by showing respect for the members of our Black community, cultivating compassion, and empowering officers to enact change in their departments as well as in the communities they serve.”

"This is an opportunity to bring together police with youth and their parents to address the pain and make a real connection."Danielle Cooper, Ph.D.

“The youth voice has clearly called out the harms caused when the trust between police and the community is lost,” added Dr. Cooper. “This is an opportunity to bring together police with youth and their parents to address the pain and make a real connection around the issues, as well as the solutions.”

The CIYPR is designed enhance education and training delivered to police officers to assist them in balancing the demands of public safety and the best interests of youth and the Black and diverse communities. Instruction will be delivered by University of New Haven faculty with expertise in youth justice, child development, and community policing. The curriculum is focused on changing approaches to situations that arise in the field and strategies for deescalating them while integrating restorative justice approaches.

Travelers Championship logo

“The University of New Haven is committed to being at the forefront of helping to cultivate stronger relationships between police officers and the people they serve,” said Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., president of the University of New Haven. “I am confident that the Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations will have a lasting and far-reaching impact on fostering change, instilling approaches that rebuild trust, and enriching our communities. I thank the Travelers Championship and the Hartford Foundation for supporting this vision.”

The program is expected to begin in the fall and will focus on police officers who have regular contact with young adults up to the age of 24. CIYPR staff will integrate community perspectives on current policing to inform the curriculum and discussions with participating officers. At the conclusion of training, the officers will focus on a project intended to make lasting improvements in their departments’ relationships with young people and families in their respective communities.

“The Capitol Region Chiefs of Police Association is honored to be working with the Center for Advanced Policing and the Tow Youth Justice Institute,” said Windsor Police Chief Donald Melanson, President of the Capitol Region Chiefs of Police Association. “Providing comprehensive training to expand our officers’ skills and ability to use a restorative approach in their interactions with our youth is vital to successful youth engagement. As seen throughout our nation, law enforcement must continue the important work of building trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve. Understanding the impact of trauma on youth and families and interacting with youth in conversation will go a long way toward bettering police – youth relations. These interactions will assist in developing lasting positive police relations to build a better future for all.”

Hartford Foundation logo

The grant will also fund community listening sessions and surveys to gather resident perspectives on police/community relations and ideas to improve policing practices led by Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP). IMRP’s work will support the development of a final report at the end of the year of the Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force of Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to join the Travelers Championship on funding this holistic, evidence-based approach to training officers on building meaningful relationships with young people and better supporting the community,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “This program has received extensive support from local police departments throughout Greater Hartford, as their buy-in and commitment are crucial to the long-term success of this important initiative.”