As a higher ed system of colleges focused on empowering our partner institutions to develop agents of change and favorably impact their communities, we’re constantly exploring opportunities to impart lasting social change. While there’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to make an impact, some rise to a level of urgency that simply cannot be ignored.
In recent years, the prevalence of brutal strife between police officers and communities across the nation has been impossible to ignore. However small the minority of implicated officers and departments may be relative to the entire domestic law enforcement population, the clear evidence of gross abuses of power that smart phone journalism has highlighted in recent years elevated these offenses to a national issue of the very highest imperative.
The result has been a seemingly irreparable loss of trust that can be systemic in its unfolding. Loss of community trust in police can easily be exacerbated by a loss of police force trust in community. To avoid being profiled as abusers of power, police can pull back on active policing, which can in turn lead to spikes in violence and murders. How do you begin to solve for the emotionally charged and seemingly insurmountable issue of total trust breakdown between communities and police? While solutions don’t come overnight, our approach is to enable our partner colleges to leverage transformative education to make their students agents of change that benefit the greater good through lasting social change.
Toward this end we recently leveraged the occasion of our annual board meeting to host a presentation by TCS partner college Saybrook University alumna and agent of change Dr. Ginger Charles discussing her new book, entitled: Police Pursuit of the Common Good: Reforming & Restoring Police Community. A 27-year veteran law enforcement officer and PhD in psychology, Dr. Charles addressed key members of the community in this very timely conversation topic, including key Chicago Police Department leadership. By leveraging her own research and proposed approach from both a social psychological perspective and firsthand experience as an officer and sergeant, the audience for this message was receptive to dialogue surrounding the need for law enforcement diversity training to understand their unconscious biases at a deeper level and change perceptions to reduce community tension.
Why does rebuilding trust between communities and police matter so much to us at TCS? Beyond just pacifying unrest and mitigating future episodes of violence, these initiatives have the capacity to create the conditions that allow all members of society to feel safe, respected and confident in the common value placed on human life. What ultimately results from persistently advancing these goals are progressive societies that are well positioned to lift all individuals within their communities, and poised to thrive as a collective.
Click here to watch Saybrook alum Dr. Ginger Charles’ full presentation at our recent board meeting, or explore her book to learn more about the psychology behind healing the divide between law enforcement and communities.