8 THE QUEENS COURIER • JULY 8, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
NYPD mentoring program ‘Blue Chips’
works to build stronger bonds with youth
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes
kicked off the offi cial start of Blue Chips,
a citywide co-ed youth mentoring and
sports program, at the High School for
Law Enforcement in Jamaica on Th ursday,
Th e program, which focuses on bridging
the gap between the police and young
people, is managed by the NYPD Patrol
Services Bureau and open to kids between
the ages of 12 and 17. Th e basketball
league is open to players between 13 and
Alongside NYPD brass and in front of
spectators and basketball players looking
forward to dunking the ball on the court
of the third-fl oor gymnasium, Holmes
said that Blue Chips provided an opportunity
to impact the lives of thousands of
Chief Holmes addressed the players,
saying “May the best team win this evening,”
and reminding them that win or
lose, they were already winners because
they were part of the Blue Chips program.
Seventy-two teams from 75 precincts
will play six-season games against other
squads from their patrol boroughs before
it’s off to the borough playoff s on Aug. 9
and the citywide championship on Aug.
20. Th e teams are coached by offi cers from
the respective precincts and consist of 12
Holmes stressed that the NYPD recognizes
the importance of youth engagement.
She was optimistic that the citywide
program would further improve already
established relationships with some of
New York City’s youth and create trust in
the police department.
“I always say intervention is prevention,”
Holmes said. “We keep our children
busy we put them on a path to develop
certain skills and hopefully have a better
opportunity in life.”
She noted that Blue Chips was not only
about sports but also about books clubs
and drama clubs, since not all young people
were into athletics. Th e program also
includes a community problem-solving
“Th ey will be able to look at things that
need improvement in their community,
recommend it to us, and we’ll team up —
whether it’s graffi ti that we are addressing,
cleanups being done or maybe some more
plants in the area — but I think it’s gonna
be tremendous,” Holmes said.
NYPD Lieutenant Michael Almonte
said that mentoring young people was
the program’s primary focus, referring to
it as “the strongest part of the system, like
Th e kids meet with their mentor on
Tuesdays for mentoring sessions, which
feature a new topic every week, and then
basketball practice, while Th ursdays are
“We also have guest speakers that come
in to speak to kids about fi nancial literacy,
entrepreneurship, domestic violence.
Just trying to prepare them for the future
and give them tools that they can use in
their life when they get older,” Lieutenant
Almonte, who has also been a mentor
with Student Sponsor Partners (SSP) for
11 years, said that the nonprofi t organization
off ered eight scholarships to a private
school for the kids who participate in
“One kid from each patrol borough
is going to get a scholarship to a private
high school,” Almonte said. “Th e student
has to be an average student, not a student
that super excels because those kids
are going to get scholarships. So we want
to focus on those kids that are struggling
a little bit.”
Almonte explained that the relationships
formed between the police offi cers
and the young people “were incredible.”
“You know, that’s a way to show them
there’s a heartbeat behind this badge.
We’re human, we’re just doing a job, and
we care about you,” Almonte said.
Young people interested in signing
up with Blue Chips can contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to their
The NYPD marching band plays a some marching tunes during the Blue Chip inaugural
Participating youth in the Blue Chip program are ready for the tip-off of the fi rst basketball game at
the High School for Law Enforcement in Jamaica.
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita N. Holmes tosses the ball of the fi rst Blue Chip basketball game at the
High School for Law Enforcement in Jamaica on July 1, 2021.
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