PATERSON, NJ- Earlier this month TAPinto Paterson visited the new police substation in the 6th Ward, meeting students and members of the Paterson Police Department's Community Policing Division participating in the Paterson Anti-Violence Policing Program.

Among the nearly 200 Paterson students expected to participate in the program this summer is Rosa L. Parks High School of Fine and Performing Arts senior, and TAPinto Paterson intern, Natacha Bunay.

We are grateful to Natacha for sharing her experience in the program with our readers.

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The Paterson Anti-Violence Policing Program has been an inspiring experience. It has helped my mindset as an individual in Paterson. Being born and raised in Paterson, I know that people tend to speak inadequately about our city and its people. However, this program and the officers and guest speakers have helped develop hope for children here, a hope of succeeding and being someone, despite of our area, appearances, gender, etc.

Yet, not only has this program given us the tools to succeed, but also tools to be able to manage real life confrontations without violence. They have expanded our knowledge when it comes to being open minded.

Although I might be almost 18, I wish there would have been programs like this when I was younger. But, as an incoming senior I now know that I want to go off to college to major in criminal justice. I’ve been here for a week and I wish it was longer. These officers such as Officer Rodriguez, Officer Torres, Officer Khadaroo,and many more have made a major impact on my life.

I wholeheartedly recommend this program to children from all over Paterson. This program is beneficial and helpful. They went over how to prevent violence, how to be aware, and even public speaking. My only dislike is that this program finished so soon, two weeks is such a short time. I hope Mayor Andre Sayegh and city council members continue to support programs designed for police officers to work side by side with the youth of Paterson.

I’m grateful and happy to have attended and hope that this program continues for many years to come.