In a recent article, the South Windsor Police Department have scheduled a community forum with the intent of improving race relations. The forum includes several guest and a panel discussion. The forum will to be a failure in improving race relations unless the South Windsor Police Department and community utilize a team building process.
The forum will be attended by Tonya Hughes, Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, who is the featured guest and panelists include Alphonse Wright, chairman of the state’s African American Affairs Commission as well as Attorney David McGuire of the CT ACLU. The panelists will share their experiences and offer their insights with regards to police interaction with the minority community.
The reason for forum to improve race relations results from “a 2014 analysis of traffic stop statistics revealed that 17.22 percent of the drivers stopped for motor vehicle violations in South Windsor were black, which exceeds the 14.07 percent statewide percentage of black drivers stopped.
The South Windsor community is not the only community that can benefit from improved race relations between the police and the community. Many other police departments are using the same format with minimal results. this process will continue to fuel the present negative race relations between the police and the community.
The most productive way for the South Windsor Police Department to improve race relations is to develop a shared vision with community members and then develop a strategic plan for improving race relations.
Step 1: Group Dynamics
The first step to improving race relations is to reduce the tension amongst the group members. I have found that is more effective to provide activities that reduce conflict amongst the group members. The police have a culture and the community has a culture. When attempting to improve race relations between the police and the community you must ensure that each member of the group believes that each member has something to contribute to the groups efforts.
I accomplish this by using an instruments that identifies the strengths and weakness of each member of the group. This will enable the group members to realize that the police and community members can contribute positively to improving race relations.
Step 2: Group Conflict
When people in a group are working together to improve race relations there will always be conflict. Conflict will arise from differences in perspective. Quite naturally, the police have perspectives on how to improve race relations and the community members will have perspectives on how to improve race relations. The problem is not the differences in perspectives but the clash of the different perspectives.
The best way to handle the anticipated clash is to have each person in the group become aware of how they deal with conflict. We begin this process by having the group individuals to evaluate how they deal with conflict. We finalize the process by forming a matrix of how each individual deals with conflict within the group. Therefore, when individuals in group are engaged in conflict, they have the information necessary to ensure that conflict in the group has a positive outcome.
Step 3: Shared Vision Development
One major step in the process is to develop a shared vision. A shared vision is what you and the other members want to create or accomplish as part of the organization. A shared vision is not imposed by one or a few people as an organizational mandate. Rather, it is derived from the members of the organization, creating common interests and a sense of shared purpose for all organizational activities.
A shared vision is like the glue for the group. It provide the compass for improving race relations. A shared vision will enhance all behaviors that will improve race relations and dismiss behaviors that will have a negative impact on improving race relations.
Step 4: Strategic Plan
The strategic plan is developed from the shared vision. Since the shared vision has a focus on improving race relations, all goals and objectives for the strategic plan will focus on improving race relations.
A strategic plan is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them. It is recommended to develop ten goals. The goals will tell the group what they should do to improve race relations. For each goal, the group will develop an objective. The objectives give the steps for each goal. After the group develops each objective they will assign a timeline to each objective. Finally, each objective will include the cost both financially and the time that it should take to accomplish each objective.
To continue with improving race relations, sub groups are assigned to accomplish each goal.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
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