- a. Workshops for Law Enforcement Officers
By the end of each workshop, participants will learn the following:
• To recognize personal triggers and other obstacles that prevent building relationships with community members;
• To appreciate the power of personal stories and to solicit them from community members to gain insight into their experiences;
• To expand the capacity to listen to people with whom one disagrees;
• To listen for and respect the emotional content in what community members express;
• To use a practical conflict resolution process to find common ground in dealing with an issue that would otherwise lead to continuing tension;
• To acquire a toolbox of ways to improve interpersonal communication by decreasing defensiveness, with particular attention to tone of voice and body language.
ii. Theory and Methodology
The workshop for law enforcement officers is based on the award-winning work of NCBI, which has developed a consistent theory and tested methodology for improving communication among diverse groups and helping them work through tough, emotional conflicts. The workshops would contain some of the following elements:
iii Understanding Stereotypes
Theory: The Formation of Stereotypes. The nature of human intelligence is to store and catalogue similar pieces of information to make sense of the surrounding environment. Prejudicial attitudes arise when one takes in misinformation, often in the form of simplistic generalizations, about a particular group. Every distorted piece of information is stored as if it were a literal recording, much like a mental CD.
Method: First Thoughts. Workshop leaders ask participants to explore their first thoughts regarding particular groups. When these thoughts are shared with the larger group, it becomes readily apparent that everyone has internalized negative recordings about some group. Theory: Intragroup Prejudice (Internalized Oppression). Most communication workshops explore the presumptions that people have about groups other than their own. But one of the most painful dynamics in interpersonal relations is the power of the negative stereotypes that people accept about their own groups.
Method: Internalized Oppression and Pride. To examine the internalized stereotypes that interfere with effective communication, participants are encouraged to express, “What I can’t stand about you [participant’s group]!” Once participants have aired the negative feelings they have toward their own group, they can more readily claim authentic group pride. Law enforcement officers should be encouraged to explore what negative attitudes they may have toward other law enforcement officers as well as the pride they have in being a member of the law enforcement community.
Theory: The Extent of Group Oppression. Although each person is unique, each person also experiences mistreatment as a member of group, often based on race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, age, profession, as well as many other categories.
Method: Caucus Reporting. Participants form group caucuses and prepare a report that answers the question, “What do you never again want others to say, think, or do toward your group?” Workshop leaders would encourage law enforcement officers to form caucuses based on the work they do.
iv Attitudinal Change
Theory: Attitudinal Change is Linked to Sharing Personal Stories. The most effective communication of mistreatment based on race, ethnicity, or membership in any group is through the sharing of personal stories. Studies have shown that telling and listening to compelling personal stories have the power to shift attitudes.
Method: Speak-Outs. A number of participants are thoughtfully invited to tell a personal story of mistreatment that they would like the other participants to understand.
v Practicum in Dealing with Offensive Comments
Theory: Skill-Training for Effective Behavioral Change. The emotions that an offensive comment triggers are often what keep people from thinking clearly. When people have the opportunity to vent in a safe place, they can prepare themselves to deal with comments that would otherwise cloud their thinking. Most people have also not learned practical strategies for moving a dialogue forward: recognizing offensive remarks as an expression of hurt, understanding that listening is not the same as agreeing, seeing the humanity in the conversation partner, deciding to put one’s attention on the other person rather than interrupting to make a point, and soliciting a personal story that informs the other person’s opinion.
Method: Role Plays. Participants generate a list of the types of situations in which they have had a hard time communicating effectively. The workshop leaders than select representative samples and coach volunteers through the role plays, re-enacting the situations and offering new strategies for dealing with them.
vi Conflict Resolution
Theory: The Ability to Handle Intergroup Conflict. Effective community policing may at times require bringing diverse constituencies together who may not agree on an important issue. Without a process for listening to each side, identifying underlying interests, and reaching for common ground, community conflicts can fester, often erupting in disastrous ways.
Method: Intergroup Conflict Process. The conflict resolution process requires the application of a number of the skills already learned in the workshop: attentive listening, soliciting a personal story, and recognizing the emotional ring when someone is saying something of particular importance. Participants select an emotionally charged topic on which they do not agree. Spokespersons from each side of the issue volunteer to explain their positions. After each spokesperson speaks, the other spokesperson repeats back with as much accuracy as possible what he or she heard. Next, each spokesperson has a chance to ask clarifying questions. A written list is assembled of the arguments advanced both for against each position. Participants then learn to consider what both sides have in common and how they could reframe the issue to take into account both sides’ interests.
b. Workshops for Community Leaders
The Workshop for Community Leaders would follow a similar format as the one for Law Enforcement Officers (see above) with the goal of helping community leaders develop communication skills. The workshop will also give community leaders the opportunity to learn more about the perspectives of law enforcement officers who are engaged in community policing. Many of the workshop components (e.g., First Thoughts, Caucuses, and Speak-Outs) create a space that allows participants to value the life-experiences of law enforcement officers.
c. Advanced Training Seminar for Community Leaders
NCBI will conduct the three-day Advanced Training Seminar for Community Leaders in each community. The training teaches participants how to lead and replicate the communication workshops in a variety of settings. The trained Leadership Teams will then offer proactive workshops in the communities to prevent police-community tensions.