News Article

Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities


Guest Author
Suzanne C. Hayden
US Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

Highlights from the inaugural summit held by the Muslim Educational Trust to foster mutual understanding between leaders of public safety and diverse civil society organizations to help us realize a shared vision of a strong, safe, and caring communities.
Attendees at the September summit identified barriers to building trust between community members in law enforcement and members of the communities they serve. Attendees also generated ideas about how to overcome those barriers. Bias was most often cited by participants as a barrier to understanding one another. The following are a sample of categories and solutions most often documented in the table notes.
The Barrier | Bias
Quotes from notes: judging people based on how they look, fear, stereotypes, implicit bias, misunderstanding each other, perceptions

The Bridge | Understanding the brain science of bias, public safety and community
Quotes from notes: have opportunities for police and community to come together, be mindful, have self-motivation to overcome bias, treat others with respect, listen, be exposed to other cultures, reach out to communities you are unfamiliar with, coffee with a cop, conversations, relationships
The Barrier | Media
Quotes from notes: technology, media, media sensationalism, media perpetuates preexisting beliefs, media uses Muslim name to influence perceptions, media filters, media increases divisiveness, media promotes negatives, TV and movie depictions of police not accurate

The Bridge | Engage the Media to show examples of positive relations between the community and police and other justice officials
Quotes from notes: use social media to provide way for community to engage with police, twitter and facebook messaging about events, messaging around media outlets, billboards showing police officers with children, social media use by police to engage with community, live twitter ride alongs, call out the media when they misrepresent a subject, Cop Car Karaoke

The Barrier | Physical police are separated from the community by cars

The Bridge | Police coming together with the community out of their cars, invite police to community events, provide opportunities for police officers and others in law enforcement to engage with youth one on one.

Here is a link to a teaser video you can post on social media for your organization and community to promote discussions around race, trust and community

Here is the link to the longer video.
We encourage you to share this with colleagues in your respective organizations to illustrate tangible ways to build bridges of  understanding in our communities and the role and responsibility we all share to promote this important work.