In May 2015 ACT for SJ collaborated with Training for Transformation on “Community Conscious Policing” in Portland, OR. This day-long workshop for law enforcement agencies and community members had the following goals:
- To engage in authentic and meaningful exchanges that will build rapport and increase understanding between community members and officers.
- To identify and challenge stereotypes, assumptions and prejudices regarding specific community groups and police officers.
- To humanize the experiences of community groups and police officers.
- To identify concrete outcomes that will further relationship building between the agencies and community members.
The workshop was multi-faceted and dynamic using diverse formats that maximized engagement, sharing and learning. We explored how culture, race and stereotypes influence our beliefs and its impact on communities. Additionally, the workshop aimed to increase awareness about the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement personnel in creating strong and trusting partnerships with the community, and how those partnerships can benefit neighborhood residents.
In a local news article when asked about the value of the training day, the FBI spokesperson was quoted as saying, “This was such an important event for our community. I want to thank them for facilitating this excellent workshop, the style and delivery really expanded the dialogue between law enforcement and our community in a way I’ve never seen before”, said Sandra Flint, Crisis Management Coordinator for the FBI in Portland.
In late 2016 Brandon Lee came to the east coast and presented the Community Conscious Policing work to a variety of stakeholders in Brattleboro, VT. Following the presentation we brought community leaders together for 2 discussion circles to think about the need for Community Conscious Policing in southern VT and then how to make it a reality.
These discussion circles were attended by: community leaders of color who have been directly impacted by racial profiling, town leadership, leaders of human service organizations in the area, the Brattleboro Police Department, Department of Corrections, Sheriff’s Department, Vermont State Police, leaders of the Equity & Diversity Committee, and other community members.
Now in late September 2017 we are in a community organizing effort to put pressure on the Police Department to follow through on what they said they would do.