Task Force Releases Report on Community-Police Relations

by Geoff Rushton on July 19, 2016 12:30 PM 

A task force of more than 30 people representing the Penn State campus and local community released to the public its final report and recommendations on the relationship between local law enforcement and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

The Task Force on Policing and Communities of Color, commissioned by Penn State and the Borough of State College in August 2015, issued five core recommendations to improve relations between law enforcement and the community.

The report goes into detail on the necessity of each recommendation and steps for achieving each. Barbara Farmer, task force member and retired director of the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, said themes emerged as the task force researched best practices and those formed the basis of the recommendations.


Penn State Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray, who received the report along with Borough Manager Tom Fountaine in May, said the report emphasizes the need for diversified police departments both at Penn State and in State College and surrounding communities.


“At the moment, we are in a better place than a lot of other communities in the U.S. because we started the conversation earlier. However, we cannot rest on our laurels,” Gray said. “Like other communities, we know we’re just a single incident away from finding ourselves in a very difficult position. Embracing and implementing the task force’s recommendations will help to strengthen our community and its relationships with law enforcement.”

The full report can be read here.

Prayer service a show of solidarity for police officers, community




In the sunlit lobby of the State College Municipal Building, the group joined hands, bowed their heads and prayed.

Just minutes earlier on Friday afternoon, a sheet of rain had swept through downtown. The sun had peeked out by the time Tom King, the chief of police, thanked the community for its support.

The gathering, which brought together members of the community and the State College Police Department, was organized that morning, a show of solidarity in the wake of the shootings in Texas, Minnesota and Louisiana. Pastors from local churches helped coordinate the meeting in a matter of three hours. They credited Dean Lindsey, the pastor at State College Presbyterian Church, for reaching out to King and helping marshal support.


“We’re proud to wear our badge; we’re not ashamed of our profession,” King told the group. “But knowing that all of you took time to come out today and pray for us, to show you care for us and to show how much we all care about our community is what it’s all about.”

Words of resilience and reconciliation echoed around the circle. Several spoke of celebrating differences rather than allowing them to cleave a divide between one another.

Harold McKenzie, the head pastor of Unity Church of Jesus Christ, spoke of continuing to build a dialogue, whether one has a badge or not. As King shared his gratitude, McKenzie draped an arm around the shoulder of a neighbor. Moments before, they had rested their hands on the officers’ shoulders as a final prayer was said.

“There’s still a lot of working and growing needed to do,” McKenzie said. “But I think this kind of event today is again that fruit of people coming together and seeing how we can build a better community.”

After King received the call from Lindsey on Friday morning, he was humbled by the gesture. After tragedy, the healing process is far from a solo effort, he said.


“We have a hard time controlling what happens in Louisiana and Minnesota and Texas,” King said. “But we can do a lot to make sure we’re taking care of our own community.”

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/state-college/article88625787.html#storylink=cpy



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'Why Diversity Training Doesn't Work' according to HBR

The Harvard Business Review just published a report about Diversity Training in the business sector and why it doesn't work

"It shouldn’t be surprising that most diversity programs aren’t increasing diversity. Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better. Firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers."

Do people who undergo diversity training usually shed their biases?

"Researchers have been examining that question since before World War II, in nearly a thousand studies. It turns out that while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers. The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two, and a number of studies suggest that it can activate bias or spark a backlash. Nonetheless, nearly half of midsize companies use it, as do nearly all the Fortune 500."

They conclude by suggesting that your organization will become less diverse, not more, if you require managers to go to diversity training, try to regulate their hiring and promotion decisions, and put in a legalistic grievance system. 

The Community Diversity group offers training for business, particularly in customer service sectors, that aim to focus more on cultural awareness and bias in a positive light. For more information on how CDG's training services contact communitydiversitygroup@gmail.com.