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Brooklyn Borough President Hopes To Improve Police-Youth Relations With 'Know Your Rights' Program

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is launching an initiative he hopes will decrease tension between police and New York City's youth.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez says the pilot program aims to make sure young people know their rights when they're stopped by police.

Students participate in a workshop as part of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams' "Know Your Rights" program. (Credit: CBS2)

At Tuesday's workshop, students played out a situation that likely happens every day -- police pulling over a car -- but in the workshop, experts told them what to do next.

Seventeen-year-old Shania Paterson, who was sitting in the backseat for a mock scenario, says the real thing is terrifying.

Paterson: "It's really nerve-wracking."
Sanchez: "What do you think goes through most kids' minds when they get stopped?"
Paterson: "Am I gonna make it home to see my mother or not? Am I going to jail? Am I going to get shot?"

That's a fear Adams is hoping to eliminate by launching the "Know Your Rights" pilot program. It will teach students what to do when stopped by police.

The initiative was sparked in part after video surfaced showing a fight between police and teenagers at Brooklyn's Jay Street-MetroTech subway station last month. A police officer is seen punching three different people. He has since been placed on modified duty.

"It clearly shows you how it was a toxic soup of interacting with ... the failure of police teaching deescalation skills and no one empowering young people with the right tools and the right skills they need so they can properly interact with law enforcement," Adams said.

Adams says most students, like the ones in the MetroTech station incident, don't know their rights. He believes the only way this program really can be successful is if the training goes both ways, so the program will be run in partnership with the NYPD.

The program will first train homeless public school students. Those students will then hold workshops for their peers in community centers and schools.

Partnering with the Department of Education, the goal is to expand the program to serve all middle and high schools beginning in January.

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