As the facilitator of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and charged by the Department of Justice with monitoring the implementation of the Task Force recommendations, I am often asked what faith-based organizations can do to broker reconciliation and collaboration between communities and police. This is particularly relevant in light of recent events where law enforcement officers have been involved in shootings of people of color and the subsequent retaliation directed toward police. We are preparing a publication for the Department of Justice on what faith-based organizations can do beyond the call for prayer and reflection. There are things you can do today and as a graduate of NTS (Class of 74), I urge you to take steps to be brokers of peace and reconciliation.

Twelve Steps To Promote Understanding and Healing - Things you can do!

1. Exegete or know your community – the demographics, crime data, substance abuse prevalence rates in neighborhoods.

2. Reach out to community based organizations and their leaders. Get to know them and allow them to get to know you. Attend their meetings, host their meetings – create a presence.

3. Attend city council and school board meetings. Go with the purpose of listening and creating a presence.

4. Meet with neighborhood and city police leadership. Seek to understand the culture of policing and their challenges. Attend citizen academies if they exist.

5. Volunteer to chaplain and or support police volunteer activities.

6. Make your facilities available for community meetings, recreational activities, tutoring and create a “safe place” for diverse populations.

7. Connect your congregation to mentoring programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

8. Organize prayer and peace vigils that promote understanding and reconciliation in communities in conflict. Be proactive and don’t wait for the crisis – but in a crisis be prepared to lead.

9. Understand and share with your congregations the issues around “implicit bias” and how it plays out in our attitudes and behavior.

10. Promote religious understanding and tolerance – let them know you by your love and grace.

11. Never miss an opportunity to show mercy and do justice.

12. Facilitate community and police recognition events in your congregation. Recognize and celebrate community police officers in your congregation.

By James E. Copple

Class of ‘74