Moderated by Michel Martin, host of Weekend All Things Considered on NPR and Susan Sturm, George M. Jaffin Professor of Law and Social Responsibility, and Director, Center for Institutional and Social Change, Columbia Law School
Police encounters with people of color have come to frame public understanding of race, as well as many communities’ experience of government. Police interactions with communities have become polarized and defined by mistrust, particularly with the reduction in available community policing funding over the past few years. Innovation and creativity in police approaches to community relations have become increasingly difficult. At the same time, the recent deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and Laquan McDonald while in police custody, among others, have garnered mass media attention and protests on an unprecedented scale, and have recast the issues of police misconduct, racism, and discipline into the national spotlight. Through the Socrates Social Justice Seminar, we will bring a group of young local leaders together to discuss values based approaches for police activity and community interaction, and ideas to advance constructive relationships and interactions between police and communities, reduce bias, and create a level playing field for all communities. The group will use carefully selected texts as background readings as well as an expert-moderated discussion to explore visions of policing that produce desired relationships between police and communities, with a focus on the following four areas in detail: police practices, recruiting from local communities, police-community relations and community justice. We will work to highlight innovations, ideas, and policies to improve the system on both a local and a national level.