Safer Streets, Better Outcomes…
In January 2015, Pennsylvania’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) awarded a two-year grant to the Montgomery Co. Public Defender Office to help develop a county-wide DMC Working Group and create four Youth/Law Enforcement Forums.
We were fortunate to have the District Attorney join as a partner and have received incredible support from the Office of Children and Youth, Juvenile Probation, Youth Center, Judges, and Police Chiefs.
One of the most crucial components of launching this initiative involved information sharing and creating partnerships with key juvenile justice stakeholders.
Next, we presented to youth service providers, community organizations, and religious leaders in a series of informational meetings. The Montgomery Co. Children’s Roundtable invited us to present this project at their June meeting, after which a number of youth service providers asked to join the working group. Our largest community-based informational meeting drew 50 attendees.
With overwhelming support for our purpose and mission, we developed an incredibly diverse and enthusiastic Working Group consisting of more than 60 juvenile justice stakeholders, community activists, youth service providers, and law enforcement chiefs & officers.
In August 1015, The Pennsylvania DMC Youth/Law Enforcement Corporation conducted a two-day Train-the-Trainers session on the Pennsylvania DMC Youth/ Law Enforcement Curriculum© for 30 of our members, which was generously hosted by the Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Department at Arcadia University.
Our first forum was held on November 17, 2015 at the Norristown’s PAL Center where more than 70 youth and police officers participated. Our hope is to engage these two groups in dialogue that will potentially lead to less volatile interactions on the street.
Here are some small tips that were critical to our early success:
- Establishing a strong working relationship with The Pennsylvania DMC Youth/ Law Enforcement Corporation in order to receive technical assistance and consultation from the start;
- Early leadership engagement, buy in from high ranking officials, and partnerships;
- Time spent in communities, meeting with concerned citizens, religious leaders, police officers and justice stakeholders; casting a wide net of members to involve throughout the process;
- Not letting more than one month pass without an updated email, or scheduled next meeting;
- The genuine care and concern that Montgomery Co. Working Group members have for both the youth in the community and the safety of law enforcement officers.