We continued our dialogue on April 18, using the “Safety and Justice” dialogue guide created by the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forum for this year’s “A Public Voice” effort. We were joined by a very thoughtful group of students from Battle High, who will be leading their own dialogue on May 4 from 4:30 to 7 pm. The public is welcome.
Several areas of agreement emerged from our inter-generational, economically and racially diverse group. The primary theme was that everyone wants to feel safe in their own neighborhood. With regard to the “working together” option in the dialogue guide, the key sentiment was that police and citizens need to first come together as fellow human-beings and get to know each other. Besides future dialogues, ideas for “coming together” included barbecues, sports, ride-a-longs, and mentoring opportunities. Another emphasis was the need to build bridges between poorer and wealthier neighborhoods.
To address inequities in the system, another option in the guide, the observation was made that in order to do that people need to first know what is going on and that means having citizens who are willing to ask the hard questions and knowing where to report. It also means having leaders who are willing to answer those questions as the Supreme Court is now trying to do with municipal court reform. We generated several ideas – including simply posting an 800 number for comments and concerns on courtroom doors — that might help in this effort. As with the prior on-line discussion, there was also support within the group for focusing police resources on serious and violent crime rather than minor drug or traffic offenses.
The third option, providing training in de-escalating violence to police and citizens, was supported by the group, which also wondered how to establish a community culture that rewards de-escalation. A final theme was mutual respect, both in the sharing of experiences and being willing to listen and accept another’s perspective on their own experience.
This dialogue will continue on-line on April 24th from 5 to 6 pm – the link for joining will be posted Monday on the Trib website. You can review the “Safety and Justice” dialogue guide or watch this video or simply join in.
Your voice matters! Join us on-line on April 24th from 5 to 6 pm or on May 4 at Battle High from 4:30 to 7 p.m.