On July 28, 2016, the Emma Bowen Foundation hosted a webinar on race and policing featuring Tracy Swan, WRI’s Senior Project Administrator.  Tracy brought her experiences leading criminal justice collaborations, facilitating discussions on sensitive police and community relations, and teaching courses on ethics and policies in criminal justice into the panel discussion.  Lasting one hour, the webinar was a frank conversation between criminal justice/policing experts, practitioners, and the Emma Bowen Foundation Fellows about recent violence stemming from decades of fraught police-community race relations. The webinar was facilitated by racial dialogue expert Dr. David Campt of The DWC Group, and explored how individuals working in law enforcement and community members grapple with racial issues, both personally and professionally.

Other Panelists included: Jerome C. Harris, Managing Partner, Harris Organization LLC, a consulting firm specializing in community and organizational development; Jeffrey C. Horne, Brigadier General, US Army (Retired), Founder, Institute for Veteran’s Education and Training; Steve Monaco, Senior Law-Enforcement Advisor, U.S. State Department.  Additionally, Emma Bowen Foundation rising senior fellow, Najah Diop, shared some of her personal experiences as an activist/leader on campus

Over the course of the webinar, the panelists discussed implicit bias and its role in influencing both actions of law enforcement and minority community members, making particular note of the universal nature of such bias and stereotyping. They also considered how an ‘all or nothing’ attitude is unproductive in dialogue between law enforcement and community members, as how one brings both sides together is the clearest path forward. Discussion led the panelists to consider finding similarities between the two sides as a starting point, i.e. what is held in mutual agreement. Safety—for police officers and for community members and their neighborhoods—was identified as the strongest point of shared-interest. 

Panelists also discussed the further militarization of police forces since 9/11 and its impact on how officers patrol high-crime neighborhoods, their appearance doing so, and the urgent need for de-escalation training for officers. In conclusion, the panelists agreed that all individuals of all races and professions need to come together to discuss racial issues, despite potential anxiety and uncertainty.

The Race and Policing Webinar is available at: https://youtu.be/vtkbfyTlZwA.