In Philadelphia, two police officers have started a weekly “Karaoke with a Cop” initiative in an attempt to change negative perceptions of law enforcement.
Officer Shamssadeen Nur Ali Baukman and Officer Justin Harris, who both grew up in West Philadelphia and are patrol officers with the city’s 18th Precinct, came up with the idea, according to CNN. The karaoke events, complete with dancing, are held every Friday afternoon.
“Nationwide, we have a real stigma against us,” Harris told CNN. “We always see police officers using too much force or abusing power, but we rarely see images of police officers in a positive light.”
Baukman first came up with the idea for “Karaoke with a Cop” when he used his singing to disperse a large crowd at a block party several years ago, he told CNN. At a community meeting in Philadelphia shortly after that, the officers suggested a weekly karaoke event. It’s been going ever since, and the officers hope it will continue to improve peoples’ relationships with law enforcement.
“If they feel like they have a friend, they can walk up to us and tell us what’s going on,” Baukman told CNN.
In October, a woman shot and killed her two daughters, ages 4 and 10 months, and her husband. That same month, a 2-year-old girl and an 11-month-old boy were shot the same weekend. The girl died, but the infant managed to survive but is in critical condition.
Philadelphia has seen a recent crime wave, with many high-profile incidents resulting in the death of children. So far in 2019, there have been 303 homicides — a 7% increase compared with the same time in 2018. It’s the most homicides in the city since 344 in 2007, USA Today reported.
It’s this crime wave that Harris and Baukman hope to change little by little with their “Karaoke with a Cop” initiative.
“The children in communities without a lot of positive role models need to see that someone who looks like them can make it in a world where it may seem like you can’t,” Harris said.