Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race & Justice
The mission of the Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race & Justice is to improve the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement. Representing a cross-section of the county, task force members include police chiefs, rank-and-file police officers, community leaders, residents of color, the NAACP, social workers, and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office.
Over the next year, with assistance from our partner United Way of Chester County, we are hosting facilitated workshops in each school district to address our diverse communities’ concerns through open dialogue. These challenging and honest conversations may make people uncomfortable, but we see that as a necessary means to understand another perspective and lived experience.
Workshops are lead by DeVon Jackson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware. Jackson is also the owner of Chanj Consulting, a facilitator for conversations about race.
Workshops include six members of the community and six people from law enforcement. The evening begins with residents having an open discussion with each other about a particular topic while law enforcement watches and listens. Roles are then reversed, with residents listening to law enforcement’s discussion. A group dialogue about what was heard and felt concludes the evening.
These facilitated gatherings are a step towards listening to each other to improve our relationship. Law enforcement needs to hear about the lived experience of being a person of color living in Chester County. Likewise, what’s it like to walk in the shoes of a law enforcement officer responding to a volatile situation?
The conversation won’t stop with the workshops. Community engagement activities – a movie night followed by discussion, law enforcement’s use-of-force training, panel talks, and a book club – are some of the next steps. The idea is to create opportunities for a continued face-to-face discourse between two groups who often don’t listen to or hear one another.
To date, we have hosted workshops in:
- Coatesville 10/5/20
- West Chester 11/2/20
- Phoenixville 3/31/21
- Kennett Square 5/6/21
These are our upcoming workshops:
- Oxford 6/15/21
- Owen J. Roberts 6/24/21
- Unionville-Chadds Ford 7/29/21
- Great Valley 8/5/21
- Avon Grove 8/31/21
- Tredyffrin/Eastown 9/9/21
- Downingtown 9/30/21
- Octorara 10/7/21
- Twin Valley 10/28/21
Post-workshop participant feedback and community events will help inform the task force of the priorities for improving life in Chester County. The task force intends to share the gathered information with the public in late 2021. Check back here for periodic updates on what the task force has planned, the work we’ve done, and how you can get involved.
If you are interested in getting involved with our task force or have ideas on how we can make a difference, please email us at [email protected]
Everyone’s voice matters, especially here in Chester County.