Talking about . . . police-community relations
We all love our children and want our community to be safe. We have seen tragedy in our communities and want that to end. We all want law enforcement to be fair. And we want police to be able to do their job in a manner that is safe for them and the community. Let’s start with this as a given. Policing has become a point of discussion as violence crossing racial lines has provoked racial tensions and the mentally ill have in particular have a disproportionate loss of life in police interactions. Too often, the conversation remains paralyzed in fear or anger — with people unable to share deeply considered feelings and perspectives. We’re hoping these materials may contribute to a thoughtful exploration on this question.
Click here if you would like a pdf of the following topic material to share with your cohost and friends.
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Background reading (optional)
While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. What are your biggest concerns about police-community relations?
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- what has been your personal response to instances of police-citizen shootings, if any?
- what do you think is contributing to the police-citizen shootings right now?
- what role, if any, do you see racism playing in our current attention to law enforcement?
- what do you expect from law enforcement? What should communities do to support law enforcement?
- what will it take for trust to grow between police and local communities?
- in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
- what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- name one important thing that was accomplished here;
- is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
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