In two weeks, a co-worker and I are traveling to Florida to present at the National Association of Community Restorative Justice Conference. We are presenting on three topic, including Partnering with Police in restorative justice organizations. Today, we met with the Chief of Police to interview him about his decision to partner the Police Department with restorative justice twenty years ago. He said a lot of great things, but one quote struck me as especially powerful and timely. He shared this insight directly after telling us about a Chief of Police conference he attended recently where he spoke about restorative justice and raised the question of whether police officers could be ambassadors of kindness and compassion in their communities.
“There are police departments on bended knee right now trying to figure out how to make different relationships with their community. More than ever, they are wanting to figure out new ways of doing business. Will we just be the hammer that comes down on people? Or can we be something else in our community? That question looms big now more than ever. The ground is fertile, the time is ripe, the window of opportunity is big now, so jump on it. Now is the time to bring all these things into play.”