Firm seeks community’s input for racial bias in Charleston Police Department

February 7, 2019. The Post and Courier.

Inside a meeting hall at Ebenezer AME Church on Charleston’s East Side Thursday night, Fouche Sheppard shared a story of how she was pulled over by a police officer she believed had profiled her.

The officer told her he thought she was an African American male before letting her go, she said.

Sheppard’s story was one of a handful shared during the first town hall meeting held as part of an eight-month, $158,556 racial bias audit of the Charleston Police Department by the Virginia-based firm CNA. Although small in attendance, a number of residents from the East Side neighborhood shared personal stories, suggestions on ways to increase community collaboration with police and asked questions about how a police department that seems to have drifted away from true, community-level policing can begin to right the course. 

Restorative justice events planned to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

January 19, 2019. Lawrence Journal-World.

Ben MacConnell understands the dangers of attaching opinions on a modern issue to someone who can’t speak for himself, but he believes Martin Luther King Jr. would be a strong proponent of criminal justice reform.

“Given the billions of dollars we’re spending on jails and prisons, and the fact that more people of color are incarcerated than there were slaves at the height of slavery, he would be looking at this and, I think, want to spend a lot of time focused on it,” MacConnell said.

Friday Editorial: ICARE remains a powerful voice

January 4, 2019. The Florida Times-Union.

The scene for an ICARE meeting is impressive.

There is a sea of people in the church pews, but they aren’t all from one congregation or faith: there are Christians, Jews, Unitarians, Baha’is and more, making up a wonderful human quilt of Jaclsonville.

And the meeting they’re attending in this church won’t take hours: it’s a highly structured one with just a few minutes reserved for every speaker.

It’s appropriate, because ICARE has always been about turning words into real, tangible action.

Does Lexington have a gang problem? New study plans to find out.

November 13, 2018. Lexington Herald Leader.

The city of Lexington took its first step Tuesday toward hiring a group from New York to analyze crime data for the past five years to determine if Lexington has a problem with crimes committed by groups and gangs.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council voting unanimously during a Tuesday work session to approve a $35,000 contract with John Jay College for Criminal Justice’s National Network for Safe Communities. A final vote is expected in December.

An interfaith coalition of leaders has pressed Mayor Jim Gray, police and other city leaders for four years to implement the National Network for Safe Communities model, which uses direct intervention methods in neighborhoods to address group crime activity.