Liberia : Liberian Immigrants And NYPD Work To Improve Relationship


Well-Known Member
Oct 25, 2005
But why cant the media spotlight how poor black communities work to improve relationships with all level of the greater society including immigrants.

No I do understand why....Black History Month used to highlight problem to the greater society. No complaints about this.

Black History Month: Liberian Immigrants And NYPD Work To Improve Relationship
February 21, 2006

They fled war-ravaged Liberia for a new life on Staten Island, but despite finding freedom and safety in the United States, this community is making adjustments in everyday life. Among those adjustments is communicating with the city's police department. NY1's Solana Pyne filed the following report for our "Black History Month" coverage.

For Peter Pearson, a Liberian refugee, just seeing a cop walking a beat makes him tremble. Not because the security guard and volunteer literacy teacher has broken the law, but because the sight of an officer's gun reminds him of the violence he fled in war torn Liberia.

"When you come here every night and you see police with guns, you know – in your mind – you get a flashback from where you're from," says Pearson.

Police say understanding that reaction is one of the major challenges in policing immigrant communities, like one on Staten Island's North Shore. It's home to the largest Liberian population outside Africa – with an estimated 8,000 immigrants.

"We have to get to know some of their cultural ways, and they have to understand some of the laws in New York City," says NYPD Chief Douglas Zeigler.

Making the situation more difficult is the language barrier. While Liberians speak English, giving them a leg up on many other African immigrants, their accent is one New Yorkers may find hard to understand. At the same time, Liberian immigrants are unfamiliar with New York accents and vernacular, including cop speak.

"There's a learning curve on both sides," says Zeigler.

Many of the new immigrants have ended up in Park Hill low income housing. Some say that's brought with it a new set of problems.

Park Hill has one of the highest crime rates on Staten Island. And some of the younger men in the Liberian community complain that police enforcement efforts are unfair.

"They put us on the wall, they search us," says Ben Kurbeduh. "They took one of my friends in for nothing. They just say they have a warrant, but we asked for the warrant and they couldn't present no warrant paper."

Chief Ziegler says he hopes outreach will dispel those negative impressions.

"We're trying to increase our contact with them in social organizations, in schools – where, you know what – they get to understand our role and they don't see the police as something that's negative," he says.

Despite mixed feelings, immigrants agree police presence has made the neighborhood safer, especially in building 55 where many Liberians live.

"You got two sides of it. Since the police have started going around 55, the crime rate there has dropped," says Rufus Arkoi.

Some say relations are improved, perhaps due to outreach but also as younger cops take over the beat.

The younger cops are very cool," says Arkoi. "They will talk to you."

A dialogue, all agree, is very important.

- Solana Pyne
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