Police and Youth Relations: A New Chapter

November 30, 2017


Story exchanges improving police and youth relations…
It’s been a dizzying, wonderful year for Narrative 4, thanks in large part to your interest and support. One of our greatest accomplishments is the ongoing work we’re doing with students and police officers in three cities: Baltimore, New York and Pittsburgh. Last year, Baltimore first responders and students from different schools participated in a Narrative 4 story exchange as part of the Baltimore Stories project. Participants sat knee to knee and face to face. The story exchange, led by N4 advisor and University of Maryland professor Dr. Sheri Parks, was extraordinarily powerful as evidenced in the video below.

“We didn’t judge a book by its cover. We actually read the book…”

Watch the Video from Baltimore Stories


Still shot from video documenting the Baltimore story exchange. Photo credit: Eyesore Productions.


Seton Hill University students with campus police. Photo credit: Christine Cusick


In New York, University Heights High School students participated in two story exchanges with police officers from the 40th precinct in the Bronx. N4 advisor and University Heights teacher Lisa Greenbaum noted, “Even after the exchanges, they were able to enjoy each other’s company and eat lunch together. One of the officers commented that part of doing her job is getting up every day and trying to overcome the stigma that is placed on all police officers. An event like this lets her spend time with young people and get to know more about them than what she experiences on the street.”

And just this week, Seton Hill University began the initial phase of their Community Collaborations Initiative by participating in a story exchange and sharing a meal with campus police officers, staff and faculty. Community members came in early before night shifts, stayed late into the evening after working long days, and parted ways with a better understanding of the rich stories that fill their campus paths.

This is only the beginning and we invite you to contact us if you would like to engage community members and turn empathy into action in your neck of the woods!


And the places we’ll return…
This month was one of the busiest in Narrative 4 history. We kicked it off at Duke University with the Leaders for Political Dialogue (LPD), a two-day forum that convenes voices across the political spectrum from Duke, North Carolina State and University of North Carolina. N4 North Carolina advisors facilitated a story exchange for participants on the first day in order to illustrate the importance of stories and their role in constructive dialogue.

“Leaders for Political Dialogue” organizers and participants with N4 facilitators at Duke University. Photo: Ben Cutler.

A few days later (and bookended by two fall training days with the Obama Foundation in Tempe and Boston) we presented Narrative 4 at the New York State Association of Independent Schools Conference for Assistant Heads and Division Heads.


Narrative 4 presenting to assistant and division heads of independent schools from all over New York state. Photo: @katierayer