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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

Shea's recognized for helping improve police-community relations

The collaboration with Buffalo Police began back in 2018 to help recruits better interact with the public through acting classes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Shea's Performing Arts has earned an award for its efforts to help police-community relations.

Shea's is being recognized with the Spark Award for Arts Integration from Arts Services, Inc. for its work with the Buffalo Police Department.

The collaboration began back in 2018 to help recruits better interact with the public through acting classes.

The classes teach recruits how to improve their body language, and it teaches communication tactics to help best react to a situation.

“I am always looking for innovative ways to strengthen the relationship between the BPD and the community. This unique training program provides our officers with a variety of non-verbal tools to build mutual trust and increase positive engagement with our citizens,” Buffalo Police commissioner Byron C. Lockwood said in a statement.

“I am proud of the broad range of community policing initiatives that are currently thriving in our department, and I look forward to continuing to develop and expand our body language training with Shea’s in the coming years.”

Thembi Duncan, the director of arts engagement and education at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, was proud of the collaboration.

“The successful use of theatre-based principles to increase capacity in law enforcement is an exciting paradigm shift in community policing. I am proud of this collaboration with the Buffalo Police Department, and I hope that, together, we can be an exemplar of innovative cultural and civic partnerships,” Duncan said.

Duncan added that there are plans to explore similar programs with other law enforcement agencies in the Western New York region.