Singing cops use karaoke to fight crime in West Philadelphia

Posted Friday, 22 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)On a recent Friday afternoon in West Philadelphia, two police officers arrive at the corner of 52nd and Market Streets. A loud commotion ensues, attracting the attention of passers-by. A crowd gathers, some taking photos and video with their phones.This interaction might not be what you think -- there's music, laughter, dancing and a lot of singing.This weekly get-together -- dubbed "Karaoke with a Cop" -- is the brainchild of Officer Shamssadeen Nur Ali Baukman and Officer Justin Harris, who both grew up in West Philly.As patrol officers in the city's 18th precinct, the pair realized that one of the biggest hurdles to effectively policing their own neighborhood was the negative perception of police."Nationwide, we have a real stigma against us," Harris said. "We always see police officers using too much force or abusing power, but we rarely see images of police officers in a positive light." To help change that, Harris and Baukman invited the community to sing and dance with them on Friday afternoons to build a connection and show a different side of the police. A local DJ volunteers to blast out hits from Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and more recent artists like Trey Songz. The idea came to Baukman a few years ago when he was on a call to disperse crowds blocking an intersection at a block party. "I had to get on the microphone and ask them to move," said Baukman. He surprised the crowd when he started singing with his flawless voice. "Everyone's like, 'Oh my god, it's so great! It's so great!'"Awhile later at a community relations event, Baukman suggested hosting karaoke with the neighborhood. "And the rest is pretty much history," he said.Growing up in West Philly, Baukman dreamed of becoming a neighborhood hero who could stop the violence he saw around him.Harris grew up in the same part of the city and joined the police department hoping to inspire young people. "The children in communities without a lot of positive role models need to see that someone who looks like them can make it in a world where it may seem like you can't," Harris said. In addition to inspiring the next generation, Baukman and Harris hope that "Karaoke with a Cop" is a small step toward building a positive relationship with the community to help stem the violence that has plagued West Philadelphia."If they feel like they have a friend, they can walk up to us and tell us what's going on," Baukman said.Harris said that approach is already helping to fight crime. "People feel more comfortable approaching us, giving us information, 'cause they feel we're going to do the right thing for them," he said.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," the highly anticipated conclusion to the Skywalker saga, could trigger seizures in photosensitive people, Walt Disney Studios said. The company issued a statement with the Epilepsy Foundation warning viewers that...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

Walk into any supermarket lately and you'll find mochi -- a small, round ball of ice cream encased in rice dough. In just the past three years, this finger food confection has evolved from an exotic niche dessert to a mainstream product, ...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)The legal cannabis industry in Canada and several states in America has been going through some growing pains. That's a key reason why industry leader Canopy Growth just named the chief financial officer of its biggest investor to...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump, has been told information on him that he has not had a chance to review has now been declassified and will be included in the Justice...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A wildlife conservationist and founder of a California animal sanctuary was hospitalized on Saturday after tigers pinned her to the ground and injured her.Patty Perry, director of Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Inc. in Moorpark, was mauled...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

London (CNN Business)When turmoil erupted in the US overnight lending market in September, it came as a big surprise.The spike in overnight borrowing rates forced the Federal Reserve to come to the rescue, pumping in lots of cash and restarting bond...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a Kentucky abortion-related law to go into effect that requires a doctor, while performing a pre-abortion ultrasound, to describe the image and make the fetal heart tone audible to a...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve known for his battles against inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has died. He was 92.The Volcker Alliance, a government advocacy group for which Volcker was the...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Three soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash Thursday have been identified by the Minnesota National Guard.The soldiers, who had been assigned to a unit in St. Cloud, Minnesota, have been identified as: Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A....

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)"Bombshell" lands as the year's second expose on Fox News under Roger Ailes, following the Showtime miniseries "The Loudest Voice." The two work quite well viewed in tandem, with the latter focusing on the late Fox News mastermind, while this...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)When checking out of a five-star hotel, thrifty travelers have been known to slip a few shower caps, mini-shampoos or even slippers into their suitcases. But more brazen guests are managing to steal bulkier items -- including mattresses, coffee...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Former first lady Michelle Obama called the impeachment proceedings into President Donald Trump and Ukraine "surreal" as the House's inquiry heads into the homestretch. "It's surreal. I don't think people know what to make of it. But do I ...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

As prepared for delivery:"No matter his party or his politics, if the President places his own interests above those of the country, he betrays his oath of office. "The President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, the Majority...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Confidential documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal that top US officials misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan in order to conceal doubts about the likelihood that the US could be successful in the nearly...

Posted Monday, 09 December 2019 ‐ CNN

London (CNN Business)South African tech investor Naspers (NAPRF) has sweetened its hostile bid for Just Eat, valuing the UK online food delivery company at $6.7 billion and escalating a takeover battle with rival suitor Takeaway.com. But ...