In 2020, massive protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis forced the US and the world to confront longstanding racial disparities in violent policing within local communities. As a result, the very role and responsibility of police has been called into question as alternatives are also called forth for addressing crime and securing peace locally.
As these conversations unfold, one critical ingredient risks being forgotten or undervalued: the role of community and community members in creating peace and curbing violence. What can ordinary neighbors do using their own gifts, talents and passions to make communities safer? What might community-driven solutions look like, and how might they help create the conditions needed for peace such as cultivating local economy, nurturing young peoples’ dreams and opportunities, or handling disputes?
Today, a video book has been released that explores these questions through 7 stories of pioneers working in both the community and law enforcement systems.
The entire book can be viewed here. Below are highlights of the stories within:
The Role of the Community
What has a neighborhood done on its own, with its own people to deal with its issues of safety?
- Chapter 1 – Diane Latiker tells of her journey finding her passion at 46 years old as a mom who began embracing her responsibility for the young people in her neighborhood. Starting from her home in July 2003, her work has grown into Kids Off the Blocks (KOB), an internationally recognized, community-rooted initiative serving thousands of young people. Diane draws on her experience to explain link between ending violence and young people finding power through community, relationship and adults who support their dreams.
- Chapter 2 – Reverend Robbie Wilkerson has built the “Men’s Accountability Council” (MAC Men) made up of the men who work, live and worship throughout Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood to act as peacekeepers and mentors to young men. MAC Men also seeks to reduces violence through creative, community-based economic development.
The Role of the Police
How have police officials used their position to support neighborhood efforts to increase security?
- Chapter 6 – Officer Vanessa Lewis has worked for decades within the law enforcement system to build alternative processes and relationships between police and community in ways that deeply value the knowledge, networks and caring capacities of community members.
- Chapter 7 – Chief David Couper, shares his perspective after serving as Chief of Police in Madison, Wisconsin for 21 years on the importance of police earning trust and working in partnership with community members — especially those struggling with racism and poverty. Chief Couper has written two books: Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption, and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police, and How to Rate Your Local Police: A User Guide for Civic, Governmental and Police Leaders.