I think the both of you would appreciate this. I'm sitting at my desk right now at work and two NYU students just left my stationhouse. They are journalism majors and their entire class was broken into teams of two and dispatched to precincts around the city for department authorized 'ride-alongs' in which they spend a day on patrol in a sector car. Their assignment was to write a story on whatever they saw, no matter how mundane (which would prove not to be a concern for these two lads). I usually act as liaison for 'ride alongs' which are fairly infrequent in our corner of the South Bronx (perhaps four or five a year). One guy was from Oklahoma and one was from California and both were pleasant and bright kids. Before sending them out with two cops, I gave them a tour of the precinct and introduced them to my Captain who runs the place. We chatted in his office and answered/asked questions. The two students had been living in Manhattan for a year and a half (they were sophomores) and seemed to know their part of the city quite well. The one from Oklahoma told us he wanted to someday make film documentaries on the ‘plight of the underprivileged living in poor areas’ (Insert eye-roll here). Lo and behold they came on a particularly nice day weather-wise and the ghetto was rockin'... a drug deal gone bad turns into a triple shooting with bonus stabbing complete with bottles off roofs at responding police cars and a near riot on street when the crime scene needs to be cleared (A shooting in the ghetto is like a social event- people run TOWARDS it to see what's going on and the hang out to scream at and throw things at the cops who respond). These poor kids came back wide eyed, pale, and a bit shaken. They both told me they were grateful for the hospitality and liked all the cops they met, but had seen quite enough and were ready to leave. I asked the Oklahoma kid if he still wanted to 'make documentaries' about the 'underprivileged' and he responded, "I had no idea Sergeant, it's not what I had imagined. I don't think I ever want to come back." I liked both of these kids, they were both really nice. However, it was also somewhat satisfying to see their liberal idealism summarily crushed with a view of the ghetto sans media whitewash. I don't think for a minute that our fledgling NYU journalists will run out and register as Republicans, but what they saw jolted them and shifted a few of their professor instilled prejudices... in addition to giving them a dinner table story for years to come.
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