Partner Profile: The Community-Police Relations Foundation
The Community-Police Relations Foundation (CPRF) was founded in January 2018 by businessmen and philanthropists Al Eskanazy and Barry Skolnick. The Foundation comprises like-minded volunteers, including Advisory Board President Peter Hochfelder, and Membership Coordinator, Jeff Meshel. CPRF is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to strengthening community and law enforcement relations through outreach, participation, events, and scholarships. The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation has been a proud supporter of CPRF since 2021.
Al Eskanazy’s philosophy has always been to participate in the change he wants to see in the world. In 2018, after a long and successful career in the insurance business, he was inspired to get involved in community activism. With ties to both Miami and New York City, Eskanazy set his sights on improving relations between the police in those cities and the communities they serve. Thus were born two charitable foundations – The Greater Miami-Miami Beach Police Foundation and New York’s Elite Police Foundation. In 2020, with the desire to remove geographic barriers to their successes, the two entities merged to become The Community-Police Relations Foundation.
Today, The Community-Police Relations Foundation operates in several communities around the country, strengthening police officers’ relationships with those they serve and directly supporting law enforcement, first responders, and their families in times of distress and fraternity. As proud supporters of law enforcement, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation was pleased to help fund the CPRF’s mission of connecting police with the people in the communities they patrol in new ways.
We spoke with Eskanazy about his philanthropic past, how the Foundation is changing lives and gathering strength in membership of like-minded community members, his hope for the Foundation’s future, and how the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation’s support will help to achieve those goals.
What prompted you to start the Community-Police Relations Foundation?
Philanthropy has always been important in my life. I was in business for about 45 years, and it’s always been important for me that my success could also benefit others. About 23 years ago, my wife and I founded a school for children severely affected by autism. The school (Ascent) provides a one-on-one learning experience for each child. That is to say, one child with one certified teacher. The organization had no money, but we went out to the community and recruited help from everyone we could. We ended up raising $125,000 and more than $1,250,000 in “in-kind donations.”
We built the school through heart-to-heart communication and paving a platform where others could be involved. Through the community’s generosity, a community came together to literally build the school. We laid the floors, installed the ceilings, bathrooms, air conditioning, etc. We fought with the state education department to lift a moratorium and accomplished a non-profit charter school.
Fast forward to over a decade later, in 2018, only months into my retirement, and living in Florida, I was feeling pessimistic about the state of society. I felt like, no matter what I did, it just wasn’t addressing many of the day’s issues. I believe that there are two kinds of people: those who participate in the change they want to see and those who complain as observers without action. I want to inspire and make it easy for everyone to participate positively in society.
I decided to create a foundation and dedicate my life to countering all the hate, animosity, and mistaken ideas about police and their relationship to the community that I was hearing. I never expected it to grow as quickly get as it has, either in membership, within law enforcement, or the communities served.
Now, coming up to four years later, we no longer have geographic limits – we go where we are needed. We are in New York, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and Los Angeles. Moreover, we continue to add municipalities around the country. We serve neighborhoods blighted by crime and community members striving to escape the pitfalls of generational poverty.
What is your approach to creating connections between police and the communities you serve?
We work diligently to build relationships with pastors in Miami-Dade, Broward counties, and New York City. These relationships expand our reach as we visit Community Churches to meet and understand the resident’s immediate needs. We are fully engaged in many areas in Miami, including Liberty City, Overtown, and Gouls.
Though we may pray to different gods, we hope for a better world together. The Foundation caters luncheons and dinners that invite parishioners, community members, local community, and law enforcement officers to unite in their humanity. Hundreds attend these events. The idea is to develop humanity, person-to-person contact, trust, and conversation between the community members and the police serving them.
The Foundation sponsors events hosted by communities that welcome uniformed police officers to interact while distributing basic needs and gifts, including bicycles, clothing, food, gift cards, ice cream, computers, scholarships, cell phones, and toys. Uniformed officers and community members alike benefit from the positive interaction. They spend time together eating, talking, and laughing. These simple interactions motivate empathy, often hindered by the idea of a uniform. They get to know one another as human beings.
How has the Community-Police Relations Foundation positively impacted the communities it currently serves?
It’s been amazing to watch what we can do when we all work together. For example, this past Thanksgiving, the Foundation fed 40,000 people in five days through Miami-Dade and New York City through the efforts of uniformed officers. Officers handed out over 3,500 turkeys to people in their communities – knocking on doors of the elderly or families in need.
In 2020, as news of COVID and fear set in, our Foundation recognized the danger that food insecurity would cause. We teamed up with various Police Chiefs and instituted a program whereby officers knocked on doors of families within their patrol communities to hand out a total of twelve hundred and fifty $50 supermarket gift cards. In so doing, people began to see their local patrol officer as a helpful neighbor instead of an unknown.
I speak for all our members when I say how proud we are of what we have accomplished so far, whether that’s bringing 3,800 pounds of clothing to migrant workers or outfitting women’s and homeless shelters with needed supplies.
This spring, we brought joy to a group of young girls by gifting them with inspiring American Girl Dolls. We have ongoing food drives to support local food pantries and feel privileged to help people in need and bring officers into their service communities in new ways. We hope to counter the hatred we see toward the police with love and generosity. Additionally, officers tell us that we have opened their eyes and minds to understand the plight of the people they serve.
Tell me about your relationship with the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation. Why is it essential to have their support?
The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation got involved with us after discovering that the child of a Miami Beach police officer was undergoing treatment for bone cancer in his leg. This officer’s son was just five years old, and his leg was amputated. His only recommended therapy was swimming, but his compromised immune system excluded him from swimming in chlorinated pool water. His family hoped to build a salt-water pool where he could engage in the recommended physical therapy. One of our Community-Police Relations Foundation members engaged the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation to join us in making this possible for the family.
Together, we raised the needed money to relieve the family’s financial burden to build their salt-water pool, and so a beautiful partnership also sprung. Membership support and donations are outstanding and make our work possible, but our Foundation is about humanity touching humanity. We engage our membership to care and participate, to join us in our outreach. Our members know that we must first reach from within to reach out. We seek to create positive connections that know no socio-economic divide and remind us that we all hope for a better tomorrow. We cannot do it alone. We need to help each other so that we may all achieve. We are grateful for our partnerships, especially those with other Foundations, like the Finker-Frenkel Foundation, who help us achieve our mission.
To learn more about the Community-Police Relations Foundation, visit: https://www.communitypolicerelationsfoundation.org/