Police officers Victor Matos and Edgar Perez have been beating the pavement.
But their beat in school safety, and the pavement is the halls of Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics in Washington Heights. And over the past few weeks, they’ve had one mission: Get students to come cheer on their classmates in a volleyball match against NYPD officers on April 25.
The officers from the 33rd precinct routinely visit high school classes in uniform, tasked with bridging gaps between police and the community, steering students toward college and letting them know about the programs available to them through the NYPD, such as explorer and cadets.
But on the court, officers have the opportunity to interact with youth on a more personal level. Officer Victor Matos said the event will also bring in motivational speakers and other officers volunteering their time.
“We’re nervous, we hope this opens up other venues, and we hope this travels to other cops who want to do this,” Matos said. “It’s about saving our youth, telling kids that if you believe it, it will happen. I think we (police officers) fell off of that, and hopefully we can bring that back.”
Matos the event was encouraged by his new commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Wilson Aramboles, who has given them the “greenlight” to organize events such as the volleyball game.
“You don’t see a whole lot of that,” Matos said. “Things like this make it exciting for me to come into work and be around people who make a difference. We’re NYPD, yes, we arrest people, but we’re part of the community.”