By Amanda Moses
During these tumultuous times, it is pivotal that community relationships and trust are strengthened between all facets of policing. One of the many roles of the Spring Creek Towers (SCT) Department of Public Safety (DPS) is to enhance the quality of life and provide security for residents. With this in mind, DPS hired a new Youth Officer, Mr. Charles Royster, to establish a strong bond between adolescents in the community and local officers.
A Brooklynite, Officer Royster grew up in East New York and looks forward to building bridges and trust with the community’s youth.
This dedicated youth officer is no stranger to working with children and teens, thanks to 20 years of youth service experience under his belt at the Roosevelt Island Youth Program. Additionally, he helped serve developmentally challenged children at the Life-Skills school in Rego Park, Queens.
In his new role with SCT’s Department of Public Safety, Officer Royster intends to ensure the residents—particularly the youth—that DPS is a welcoming hand in the community. “Basically, what I want to do is make a bridge between the youth of the community and public safety, focusing on the youth. I would like for them to understand that we (officers) are not adversarial. We are here for them and we are a part of their community as a helpful resource,” Royster said.
His first goal is ensuring that there is no fear or disconnect between public safety and the community. As he continues to meet local school principals, Twin Pines Management Directors, and SCT Youth Programing leaders, he plans to utilize all the resources available at SCT. Royster was extremely impressed with the established youth programs in place. Rather than re-inventing the wheel in creating more recreational activities, he hopes to collaborate with everyone to further promote these existing programs.
Ideally, Royster wants to offer himself as a helping hand for the neighborhood. “I’d like to push forward or initiate (if it doesn’t exist) educational programming and recreational programing because unfortunately most of us, as we become adults, forget what it was like to be a kid. We can’t realistically expect them to not do certain things or to be involved in with certain things if we do not provide an alternative for them,” Royster said.
He plans to really communicate with the youth and understand the challenges they face and their needs, and in doing so attempt to develop resolutions. “Talking to them like they are real people [not just children] starts to build that bridge. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the street talking to the youth and going to the basketball courts. I help out with the football practices and the kids are becoming more familiar with me. For me, that’s the beginning,” he said.
As Royster familiarizes himself more with residents, he hopes to be able to direct them to services that are available in the community, such as safe zones where the youth can feel comfortable in their surroundings (Starrett City Judo Club, Teen Central, Spring Creek Youth Orchestra, Saturday Academy, college prep, GED programs, Spring Creek After School Program, and more). If they are in a difficult situation, he wants them to feel that they can trust him. “It’s all about safety. People need to feel safe. Children need to feel safe, especially because these are their formative years. They’re starting to develop their personality and where they fit in,” Royster said.
In understanding the pandemic’s creation of a “new normal,” Royster recognizes that some youth can feel isolated because of quarantine safety measures, and he wants to be able to provide assurance for those who are having trouble adjusting, as well as creating bonds with programs that will allow people to connect virtually if not physically.
“I remember what it was like to need someplace safe to go. I remember what it’s like to be bored and I wished there was someone there I could talk to who could help me out, or who I could feel safe around. I do connect with that and remember it well. I want to provide that for someone else because I didn’t always have that,” Royster said. In his efforts, he aspired for the youth to see that he is not just a person in a uniform, but an empathetic human being.
Overall, Royster is ready to be of service. He intends to be the hand extended between DPS and community groups, creating a safe environment for youth that is free from hostility and fosters education, professional development, arts, and recreational programing.
Photo courtesy of Officer Charles Royster