LRN AND THE BLUE AND BLACK INITIATIVE:  A PARTNERSHIP FOR JUSTICE

May 5, 2021
David Greenberg

 

In late Spring 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic held the world in its grip, thousands took to the streets in cities in the US and around the world to protest racial violence associated with police behavior. In response, LRN had a robust discussion about what we should say and what we should do.  Our Board of Directors published a strong statement by stressing our duty and commitment to combat racism against Black people in all its forms, from wherever it emanates, and however, it is expressed, whether in police brutality, in state-sponsored discrimination, or in conspiratorial whispers in private quarters. But we all knew that words alone were not enough. We had work to do—internally, on our own actions to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within LRN and externally, to help our partners on their journeys toward racial justice. On the latter front, we built a new course for partners, Anti-Racism: Taking Action, that engages learners in the journey we hope all will aspire to in the quest for racial justice. 

 

We wanted and needed to do more—in particular we desperately wanted to give back by using our core capability in developing training to bring communities and police departments together in a joint effort to make a tangible and positive difference. We were fortunate that one of our LRN colleagues, Laura Danysh, introduced us to the leaders of a new organization, THE INITIATIVE: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership, founded by three Howard University School of Law alumni. THE INITIATIVE is rooted in an ethics and compliance-based approach to changing organizational culture and is singularly focused on engaging all key stakeholders to develop a shared vision for effective, community-oriented policing practices and scaling those practices through programming, training, and data analytics. THE INITIATIVE is working on the front lines to build greater trust, transparency, and collaboration between communities and police departments – recognizing that black communities and police are joined together in a relationship that can lead either to safety and economic progress or to violence and a deteriorating quality of life. 

 

Working together, LRN and THE INITIATIVE are developing a comprehensive, custom curriculum across a range of topics over several years meant to help police departments train officers on the most effective, proven community policing practices, including: 

                        • Community Policing Best Practices 
                        • Policing Brain Strategies, including mindfulness 
                        • Anti-Bias 
                        • Procedural Justice 
                        • De-escalation 
                        • Allyship/Active Bystanders 

Our first effort for THE INITIATIVE was a Meaning Maker Video to promote “Operation: Brain Strategies”, the initial training course in the curriculum. The Meaning Maker got rave reviews from THE INITIATIVE leadership. Nadine Jones, the Co-Founder and Executive Director wrote:   

Oh my gosh, this is fantastic! I can't believe what you all have done.“  

The LRN Team, led by Stuart Merry and Naznin Kotwal – and including Denise Middleton, Kristen Motzer, Heather Pope, Cliodhna McAllister, James McCabe, Michael Del Polito, Joe Jacob, Tania Griffith, and Linda O’brien, among others – has recently completed the initial course, which is now available for rollout by police agencies.  “Operation: Brain Strategies” was developed through a creative partnership by THE INITIATIVE, mindfulness practitioner and educator Gina Rollo White, and LRN. This course teaches law enforcement officers tactical strategies for training their brains to respond effectively, rather than reacting impulsively, when confronted with the incredibly stressful situations they confront in real-life policing. The course teaches a path to mindfulness and short- and long-term wellbeing that will help police officers prevent escalation and conflictand the harm that can follow both to the police and citizenswhere it is not necessary. The wider purpose of this course and the entire curriculum is to support a community policing model, which emphasizes building strong, positive relationships between law enforcement officers and the public.  

“Operation: Brain Strategies” also struck a profoundchord with THE INITIATIVE’s top leadership.  In Nadine Jones’ words: 

“I don’t know what to say. I’m actually really emotional right now having just finished it… 

  I am so proud to have been part of this training. To say that I love it is an understatement.

 I think it is phenomenal.”  

We’ve only just begun, but this kind of feedback is very promising in terms of what we can hope to accomplish in our partnership with THE INITIATIVE. It is an honor and a privilege to do this kind of work. It is the kind of corporate philanthropy that is so much more meaningful than company statements and charitable contributions ever could be. It asks the best of LRN and calls upon all of our skill and experience. If we can inspire principled performance in the relationship between the police and communitiesand help build an atmosphere which creates greater trust and diminishes intolerance and injusticewe will honor our purpose, our mission, and our values. 

 

About the Author

David Greenberg

Senior Advisor at LRN

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