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ST. LOUIS – An Atlanta police detective who grew up in St. Louis is bringing law enforcement and the communities they serve together in a unique way.

Detective Ty Dennis has big plans for bringing police and the Black communities they serve together.

“My goal is to bridge the gap. I’m Black and I’m a cop,” he said.

Dennis grew up in the Fountain Park neighborhood in north St. Louis. He was part of the desegregation program and graduated from Marquette High School.

The 16-year law enforcement veteran is using his unique life experience in a program he created called Clippers and Cops, which brings police, gangs, and community members together to talk in barbershops.

“It’s a Black man’s country club. We talk about everything,” Dennis said. “So, if can talk about everything, then why not issues we are dealing with in law enforcement?”

When police shootings happen, Dennis said communities immediately assume it wasn’t justified because they always hear top level officials saying the same thing. His program provides real talk.

“Sometimes it gets heated because people have stuff they want to ask police,” he said. “The response we have got is nothing but positivity. From a police standpoint, some of my colleagues say you’re giving us a voice.”

Clippers and Cops has not met since quarantine began. Dennis said people need this now more than ever. He wants to take the program nationally.

Dennis brought Clippers and Cops to St. Louis in 2018 for a test run and now wants to create a permanent base of operations.

“My goal is to come home with it. Try to help fix problems of St. Louis,” he said.

Does Dennis, who investigates gang activity in the streets, speak with people who want to defund police?

“A lot of people don’t want to necessarily defund police,” he said. “They want to allocate resources to other programs.”