The Maple Leaf Park condominium complex in Brick Township often makes the news for unsettling reasons – but Brick police are now hoping to shed light on their efforts to turn things around in the troubled neighborhood through an outreach program that took more than two years to get off the ground and has seen more and more success ever since.
The department began the TEAM program just under a year ago, in October 2021. An acronym for “Trust, Educate, Aspire, Mentor,” the effort is a police-led mentorship program launched specifically for Maple Leaf Park to establish a trust relationship between the Brick Township Police Department and at-risk youth in a neighborhood that sometimes can seem disconnected from other parts of the township.
The program consists of police teaming up with teachers from the local high school, teenagers from other youth clubs, the mayor’s office at town hall, local civil rights activists, the local faith community, and local businesses to give the neighborhood’s young people “a place to be, and things to do, while building rapport and trust among the community,” said Sgt. Jim Kelly.
Earlier this month, the department released a four minute-long mini documentary on YouTube that chronicles the evolution of the program, the positive interactions between officers and young people, and some of the good times everyone involved has shared over the past year. It is embedded above this story.