Engaging Youth

Engaging youth is an essential part of Neighborhood Policing. The Police Foundation is sponsoring Options, a program developed in partnership with local community organizations and neighborhood police officers that uses virtual reality technology to build relationships between police officers and young people. This program provides useful life skills, helps to reduce criminal activity, trains young people in emerging technologies, and creates human connections between at-risk youth and NYPD officers.

With the support of the Foundation, Police Officers working with young New Yorkers have developed a detailed curriculum, with exercises and discussion topics to equip youth with a better understanding of police/community relations and the tools to handle a range of conflict situations in their own lives. The program includes a virtual reality component, using realistic scenarios developed in partnership with young people.

These kids actually see that we're working hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip. We're giving them more than just a voice.
Detective Jason Anazagasty
We've come together as one to build something to better the community.
D'Angelo Isaac, Student
What we're doing now is building relationships.
Chief Rodney Harrison

Options & Virtual Reality

Options is a three-day program in which Police Officers and young people work together to develop conflict resolution and emotional intelligence skills. The program is designed to encourage dialogue with Police Officers and incorporate youth into Neighborhood Policing.

The program culminates with an officer-led virtual reality session in which young people are presented with difficult and dangerous scenarios they may face on the streets of New York. Participants are asked to think of strategies they can use to extricate themselves from these situations.


  • Day 1: Emotional Intelligence includes exercises to build trust between participants and the officers as well as teaching the basics of reading and controlling emotions.
  • Day 2: Tools of Resolution teaches how emotions affect decision-making and how they expand or limit options and introduces police split-second decision-making.
  • Day 3: Application begins with virtual-reality scenarios to apply lessons from the first two days while giving more specific tools to help participants tailor their emotional responses to make better decisions.

Options Virtual Reality Scenarios

  • Gang Recruitment
  • Gang Initiation
  • Knock-Out Game (Asked to punch a stranger)
  • Brooklyn Bounce (Asked to hold a gun)
  • Police Stop (From youth perspective)
  • Police Stop (From Police perspective)

Screenshot of Options VR

Photography by Josh Touster