Policing in America is not a game. But it is something more and more people should be getting involved in. To change the culture of policing, to increase fairness in law enforcement and to make all of our communities safer, requires that all residents get involved. One way to do this is to talk with police. Get involved with your local police department. Go to community events.
Daylight Justice recently conducted a workshop about procedural justice and implicit bias for community members and police officers in Lafayette, California. The room was packed. Difficult topics were discussed including race.
The police chief, Eric Christensen said that he had expected the worst. "My experience has been that few topics create the tension that race does in our society. I've been in meetings where chairs have been broken, epithets have been screamed and where a good idea has gone terribly bad." And at the Lafayette workshop, the conversations got heated. But according to Chief Christensen, the situation was managed and the conversation brought back to the original topic: we all have biases. Residents shared difficult stories about being racially profiled. Police shared their experiences of feeling misjudged for being an officer. A real conversation was had.
Everyone learned something. One participant said he had "no clue that people held the fears that were discussed during the presentation." Chief Christensen said that "By bringing this to the forefront for this one individual, you’ve done a great service for our community – but the presentation affected many in the audience." And this made the event, "a home run."
For press coverage of the event, read this article by the Lamorinda Weekly.