Jacksonville, like many other urban cities, has been forced to recognize and address recent, highly publicized events involving law enforcement and some segments of the community. The heightened level of public scrutiny and tensions between law enforcement and some of the communities they serve continues to be a major challenge. With the goal of strengthening community-police relations, the Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) Center for Law and Social Justice led nine training workshops with hundred of community members and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) officers.
The workshops included highly volatile simulated scenarios involving law enforcement encounters, traffic stops, and crimes in process within the community.
In one session, local youth were provided a forum to discuss their views and perspectives of law enforcement in addition to discussing strategies to increase positive interactions.
The final training workshop consisted of JSO representatives and community residents working collaboratively to develop an action plan to improve relationship with a specific focus on the Black community. The action plan will serve as a roadmap to ensure all parties are accountable for their role in improving law enforcement and community relations and safety. The concept has also received national recognition and has been selected by the Attorney General as a workshop for the upcoming 33rd National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community to be held in Jacksonville, Florida on May 31, 2018. All of the participants agree that the sessions were a set in the right direction.