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.
With assistance from our partner, the 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 led 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 residents of color and six members of law enforcement. The evening begins with residents talking with each other about their experiences and relationship with law enforcement, while law enforcement 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?
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
- Oxford 6/15/21
- Owen J. Roberts 6/24/21
- Great Valley 8/5/21
- Tredyffrin/Eastown 9/9/21
- Octorara 10/7/21
- Avon Grove 10/14/21
- Twin Valley 10/28/21
- Downingtown 11/4/21
Our final workshop is in the Unionville Chadds Ford school district on 12/9/21.
In addition to the workshops, the Task Force has shown the documentary film WALKING WHILE BLACK: L.O.V.E. IS THE ANSWER (WWB) in several communities, including Coatesville, Tredyffrin, Octorara, and Downingtown. WWB's message is a powerful one about reconciliation, addressing how we can improve the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. Directed and produced by A.J. Ali, a disabled veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force, the film has won international acclaim and been recognized by the NAACP and others. Watch our social media channels for where we will show the film next.
Post-workshop and WWB feedback 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 early 2022. 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.