Public Invited to Participate in Discussion Series ‘Connections: Cops & Community’
Three-part series to focus on policing in the community
A coalition of Town leaders are inviting community members to join Connections: Cops & Community, a three-part discussion series that will delve into policing in Needham and help foster greater understanding and dialogue between police and the community.
The series aims to engage community members in conversations around race, diversity, equity, and inclusion, a key recommendation from the Needham Unite Against Racism Initiative (NUARI). The NUARI Working Group identified policing as a priority area of focus. Participants organizing these events include members of the Select Board, Needham Unite Against Racism Initiative Working Group (NUARI), Human Rights Committee, Needham Diversity Initiative, Needham Police Department, Needham Public Schools, the Interfaith Clergy Association and Town leadership.
The first event, “History of Policing: Then and Now”
is designed to educate the community about how the Needham Police Department is structured and its operations. This conversation is intended to provide important background information on policing so that participants have information they need for more robust dialogue in the second two conversations. Cops and Community will feature three panelists: Needham Police Officer Anthony Frongillo, who will cover the history of policing in the United States; Gloria Greis, Executive Director, Needham History Center & Museum, who will cover the history of policing in Needham; and Police Chief John Schlittler, who will discuss current policing in Needham. The discussion will be moderated by Needham resident Chad Williams, Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the 90-minute presentation.
Event held on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - Event can be viewed here.
The second session "Exploring the Role and Impact of School Resource Officers"
focuses on youth and police interactions, with a particular focus on School Resource Officers. Participants will hear from UMass Boston McCormack Graduate School Professor Mark Warren about the history of School Resource Officers, how their roles have evolved over time and current data on outcomes and racial impacts. Needham School Resource Officer RJ Poirier will share an overview of his role in Needham and the Needham Police Department's philosophy, partnerships, and approach to working with youth. This will be followed by small break-out groups for discussion and reflection.
Event held on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - Event can be viewed here.
The third session of the series, "Community Conversation"
will be driven by the community, expanding on issues covered in earlier conversations, exploring the relationship between law enforcement and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and discussing issues around policing that are most urgent in the public’s mind. Participants in the first two sessions and community members will be asked to provide feedback on topics of interest to help shape this third session.
Connections: Cops & Community is just one way the Town is working to ensure that Needham is a welcoming and inclusive community. The Select Board has adopted a vision statement for racial equity in Needham. Various Town Boards and Committees are partnering with NUARI to identify ways they can apply this vision to their work.
Monday, June 13,2022 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Powers Hall, Town Hall and via Zoom