Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation is essentially the government on the tiny two-mile island nestled in the East River. Still, CEO Shelton Haynes knows that to operate between government and corporate requires some changes from both. With a strong commitment to promoting public safety on the island, Haynes has made sure that creating strong ties between the community and the Public Safety Department (PSD) is a priority on the growing island.
Shelton Haynes Puts Saftey First
With a diverse community that is brought together by the island’s many amazing festivals, including the National Night Out, Cherry Blossom Festival, and a grand Fourth of July celebration, the community on the island is active and very tight-knit. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s all fun and games for the Public Safety Department officers, who get daily exercise walking the island’s residential buildings over three shifts every day. Noted for their strong commitment to the community they serve, Shelton Haynes knows that this commitment is just one part of the strong collaboration the officers have with the community.
Rather than taking some harder-handed approaches that would be expected in many urban centers, Shelton Haynes takes a community-first approach to public safety, providing the officers with education in de-escalation, recognizing medical or psychological emergencies, and keeping the lines of communication open while on their daily patrols. “The officers are present in every area of the island,” Shelton Haynes mentioned in a recent interview. “They walk the halls, get to know the neighbors and engage in meaningful dialogue. That builds a lot of trust.”
Feeling Safe In RIOC
For PSD officers, that trust is maintained through open communication with the commercial tenants, senior center guests, and organizations across the island, including gardening clubs and the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association. Trust goes a long way to building a strong collaboration and relationship with the community at large. “It’s meaningful when you see PSD’s presence on the island. You feel safer because you know them,” Shelton Haynes mentions.
One officer, in particular, is at the top of Shelton Haynes’s praise list, who works in a non-traditional role at the local youth center, Haynes legacy project that creates a safe space for children and teens to hang out after school with educational, physical, and developmental programs. “That person is engaging,” Haynes states, considering the officer. “They interact with the children, who know that person is not just a peace officer, but also someone they can trust. That makes children feel safe, knowing that the peace officer is also a member of their community.”
Building A Strong Community
By building strong ties between the community and the PSD officers in a daily, engaging fashion, Shelton Haynes knows that the strong sense of community on Roosevelt Island will continue to grow and last long into the future, even as the small island develops. With many plans for opportunities on Roosevelt Island, Haynes knows this sense of community is more important than ever.