Friday, January 25, 2013

Postscript -"What Works Summit:(Re)Building Trust Between Community and Police"

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of participating in the “What Works Summit: (Re)Building Trust Between Communities and Police” here in Newark. The event, sponsored by the Center for Collaborative Change (CCC), brought together academics, advocates and law enforcement agencies to consider how poor urban communities are harmed by a lack of trust in law enforcement and to explore best practices that address the problem.  The event was chock-full of impressive panelist, highlighted by Connie Rice, civil rights attorney and author of “Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones” and David M. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ms. Rice mesmerized the audience with her account of a career advocating for “bus riders, death row inmates, folks abused by police, school kids, whistle-blowers  cops and sufferers of every stripe of discrimination.”   

Professor Kennedy is perhaps best known for creating two of the most effective and innovative violence reduction responses of the last 20 years including: the Boston Gun Project, a problem-oriented policing initiative expressly aimed at taking on homicide victimization among young people in Boston; and the Drug Market Initiative, a strategic problem-solving initiative aimed at permanently closing down open-air drug markets. David’s presentation laid out in stark relief how our fixation on measuring violent crime nationally has blinded us to the realities on the ground. So, although we have succeeded at national crime reduction, people don’t live “nationwide”. We live in communities and neighborhoods. And from 2000 to 2007, in poor neighborhoods in big, medium and small cities the homicide rate among young black men has increase by a third.

David and his colleagues at the Center for Crime Prevention and Control have partnered with Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, the City of Newark and local partners under the umbrella of the Newark Violence Reduction Initiative (NVRI). NVRI will simultaneously implement group violence reduction and drug market intervention strategies here in Newark.  If you haven’t done so already, get David Kennedy's latest book “Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America” and checkout this podcast where he explains the story behind the Drug market Initiative.

Finally, I’d like to thank and congratulate the summit organizers: Laurel Dumont and her team at the Center for Collaborative Change. They are an incredible group of professionals committed to working locally to bring the best ideas, intentions and solutions to the community. I’m also proud to call them friends.

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