By Naeisha Rose
This year the Police Athletic League helped more than 1,500 teens and young adults get job experience through the PAL’s Summer Youth Employment Program and at the 113th Precinct eight residents of southeast Queens were under the mentorship of Community Affairs Detective Tanya Duhaney in Jamaica.
Duhaney is a 17-year NYPD veteran at the 113th Precinct located at 167-02 Baisley Blvd. She grew up in the precinct she now serves and is an alumna of the PAL program herself.
“PAL alum and Detective Tanya Duhaney is an exemplary role model for PAL youth,” said Frederick Watts, PAL executive director. “NYPD officers participate year round in a wide range of our programs and activities.”
Duhaney loves her role as a mentor in the PAL program because she wants to be a positive example within the NYPD for youths.
“I take between six to eight kids every summer so that we can have that interaction with them and they get to see [what we do] from the community point of view and they get to see things from the police’s point of view and see what we deal with day to day,” said Duhaney, who just served as a mentor for the 11th year.
The PAL program was run within the Community Affairs Office at the precinct from July 5 to Aug. 10 and the kids got a taste of Duhaney’s role within the NYPD.
“They go out with me and I show them what I do as a Community Affairs officer,” said Duhaney. “So we went to senior centers, we did school visits during the summer because I do school safety and they assisted me a lot with National Night Out.”
National Night Out is a community building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and is held the first Tuesday of every August. These events are held across the country and can range from either a small cookout to a festival or parade and feature youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars from emergency personnel and exhibitions. This year’s Night Out event was held on Aug. 7.
One of the mentees of the program was LaTaunya Vassel, 24, from Laurelton.
“She would go to the seniors and talk to the elderly,” said Vassel. “They really appreciated that and the food we would deliver.”
Before National Night Out, the youths in the program manned the phones at Duhaney’s office, corresponded via email with people interested in learning about the event and did administrative work.
At the National Night Out event they served the community food and drinks and acted as representatives for those interested in learning about PAL or the SYEP.
The youths also learned about police gear and the specialized police vehicles.
“We learned how to put on a bullet-proof vest,” said Vassel. “We learned the ins-and-outs of the specialized vehicles that looked like a tank.”
The youths learned how to turn on the siren in those vehicles, how to put on scuba gear, the types of emergencies the scuba gear would be needed for and how to use a battering ram to break down a door.
“Going forward maintaining that relationship between the community and the Police Department is something that is very important to me,” said Vassel.
The summer youth program employs youths between the ages of 14 and 24 and they work 25 hours a week and earn $13 an hour.
“I learned that [Duhaney] is like the middleman between the Police Department and the community. She speaks on the behalf of both to make sure they get a better understanding of each other,” said Vassel. “I like how she came down to our level, but was assertive and we knew what she needed to be done and we made sure it got done.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose