A retired police officer gives back to his community by teaching children how to DJ. Sounds like the premise for a TV show right? Well, that's exactly what Todd Taylor is doing! After 20 years on the force with the NYPD, Taylor has taken his long time hobby and turned it into a way to keep kids off the streets. I DJ NOW had a chance to speak to Taylor and learn more about his background in law enforcement and the Cops and Kids program.
I DJ NOW: Tell us about your career as a police officer.
Todd Taylor: I was a New York City Police Officer for 20 years. I worked in the 77th Precinct for 11 Years than transferred to the Community Affairs Division where I eventually got promoted to the rank of Detective Specialist. My primary assignment was to help bridge the gap between Community and Police, particularly with youth.
IDJ: Tell us about your career as a DJ - or your hobby in DJing.
TT: I began DJing as a hobby when I was 13 years old. Back then, almost the entire neighborhood was into music (either DJing or rapping). As I grew older, it transformed into a career. I continued DJing throughout my career as a NYC Police Officer not only make extra cash, but as a form of relaxation and stress relief.
IDJ: How did you develop this idea for Cops and Kids?
TT: While I was a NYC Police Officer working in Brooklyn in the mid 1990s, we began to have a surge in teen violence and gang activity. While I was investigating many of the cases and interviewing many of the young people that was getting into trouble, I learned that many of the kids joined gangs for a sense of belonging and prestige. Many of the crimes, particulary larcenies and robberies, were being committed due to lack of employment. I then decided to begin teaching kids and teens how to DJ so they can learn to make money while becoming increasingly popular in their schools and neighborhoods.
IDJ: Tell us about the program and how it's run.
TT: Currently, we go into public and private schools and teach kids of all ages the basic skills of becoming a DJ. We also get invited to teach at many after school programs as well (YMCA, PAL Centers etc). We meet periodically in a program we designed called the “Cops & Kids DJ Program” where off duty Police Officers who spin link up with teenagers who DJ and they compete in a friendly DJ Battle to help bridge the gap.
IDJ: What are some of the reactions you’ve experienced from the kids?
TT: Most of the time, we get very positive reactions from the kids. Many have grown and went on to DJ professionally, some became NYC Police Officers and most important of all, the vast majority are productive citizens who give back to their communities.
IDJ: How can families and kids get involved and how do they reach you to get more information?
IDJ: Are there other programs like this that you operate?
TT: This is the main program, however, if a school or after-school program calls us with a particular problem (Bullying, Gangs, Kids cutting school etc), we often times partner up with other community organizations to design a plan to help solve the problem.
IDJ: What sort of results have you seen directly related to the Cops and Kids program?
TT: The most rewarding result that I have seen is the improvement between the Police Officers who DJ and the teens. Teens who often looked at Police Officers as the enemy have learned that Cops are humans too and you should judge each person individually and not based on a uniform. On the flipside, the Cops (especially rookie officers) learned to not fear getting more involved in the communities that they work in and that it is ok to stop and talk to members of the community. We also have a high success rate of Police Officers and kids getting noticed publicly and landing major gigs with organizations such as the Bklyn Nets, The Universe Soul Circus, American Dream Mall and LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells Radio etc
IDJ: What are your plans for short term/long term goals with this program?
TT: Currently, we linked up with organizations such as the KidzDJCafe in Pliladelphia and similar programs in Charlotte, Maryland and Ohio where they teach kids how to DJ. The overall plan is to continue the movement of getting kids off the streets and into music in as many states as possible. From the Police perspective, we want to show Police Departments and communities around the world how they can be creative and use the skills that they have (outside of their Jobs) to not only be utilized as an effective crime fighting tool, but a way to bring communities together.
IDJ: If someone wants to donate/contribute/sponsor this program how can they do so?
TT: They can reach out to us via e-mail, phone call or on social media.
For more information on Todd Taylor, Taylor-Made Productions, and the Cops and Kids DJ Program, check out the links below.