The Center for Michigan hosted a discourse, “Community Conversation: ‘Race and Public Safety’,” on January 15, 2017 in EMU’s Student Center Auditorium.
Aimed at encouraging improved interactions between community and the state government, Dwayne Barnes facilitated the event during which questions were posed and responses collected anonymously through a remote-based PowerPoint system. Following evaluation of the responses, participants were given the opportunity to express their insights to the questions and share their personal experiences that helped form their opinions.
Barnes, outreach coordinator for the Center, facilitated the conversation alongside panelists Nick Brown, EMU graduate, and Tanasia Morton, EMU student body president.
Via the PowerPoint presentation, survey prompts asked audience members if various interventions would either improve community/police officer relations or if the interventions would contribute to a reduction in crime. Vocalized responses to the prompt results were varied, but several found widespread agreement amongst the audience.
“One of the Center’s tasks is to engage,” says Barnes, “and that’s what we’re here for.”
“The first step to addressing a problem is addressing it,” one audience member shared.
Criticizing the idea that community and police relations could be improved via structured training, another audience member shared that “diversity training should be every single day of their lives.”
“We talk to about 5,000 Michigan residents,” Barnes says. The process involves 6-8 months of hosting Community Conversations. When the results are compiled, a report is produced that says what the participating Michigan residents are concerned with. The reports are distributed to state leaders and influencers to encourage action based on the concerns of the people.
“We like to provide an opportunity for residents to share their voices on whatever it is,” states Barnes. People spread word about what goes on in these discussions and share their experiences with their friends and organizations.
The Center for Michigan is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank located in Ann Arbor. The Center’s goal is to improve Michigan by encouraging greater citizen participation and understanding, and effecting change by ensuring that that Michigan’s citizens’ voices are heard by the state's leaders, legislators, and influencers.