Op-ed: Newark police and community talking about trauma
by Lionel Latouche/March 23, 2017 Featured image via ejusa.org.
I see trauma everyday. As a trauma therapist in Newark, NJ, I see trauma in the youth and families who are at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system. I am also a survivor of trauma: my cousin was killed by a police officer in New York. I am reminded of the vulnerability of black bodies every time I hear of another police-involved shooting across the country.
This past fall, I had a chance to share with Newark police officers the impact of police on my family as a participant in the Equal Justice USA Police/Community Initiative. For the past year Newark police and community members have been coming together to talk about trauma and examine the relationship between police and communities of color, and how we can effectively reduce violence and support victims. Understanding what trauma is – for civilians and police, as well as the historical trauma people of color have endured from slavery and throughout the justice system – gives police and civilians a shared framework to start to understand one another’s perspective. It was empowering for me to be able to share directly with officers how the police have harmed my family. And it changed my perspective to recognize the shared experiences between myself and officers – we both experience trauma by working closely with marginalized groups in Newark.
Once we identified trauma in our lives and communities, we could talk about effective responses to it. We saw that together we could fight to increase services for trauma survivors, or have police respond with care to traumatized people they encounter on the streets, particularly boys and men of color who are least likely to be seen as victims of violence. Throughout these sessions, concrete ideas emerged about changes that can and should be made to improve the relationship between the Newark PD and the community, accountability, and public safety.
One of the proposed recommendations is a statement from Newark Police addressing the role the law enforcement community has played in harming communities of color. Having lost a loved one to an officer shooting, I know the damage to communities and families that makes statements like this meaningful. In order to build trust between the police and community we must first acknowledge the harm done to families in the name of law enforcement.
At the end of January, police, faith leaders, community leaders, social service providers, and other concerned citizens came together to talk about how to advocate for changes in the system that the Newark PD should act on. At this community meeting both police and community leaders affirmed our commitment to continue to work together to implement this and other recommendations that will lead to a safer Newark.
This program will continue in Newark this year. Equal Justice USA – the nonprofit that organized these gatherings – will continue to collaborate with the police department, schools, and faith leaders to implement recommendations as well as train over 150 more police and community together through weekly group sessions. If you’d like to be involved, you can register for the program at www.ejusa.org/newark.
Contribute to BrickCityLive.com! We’re looking for opinion and explanatory contributors, and are calling all thinkers, scholars and practitioners to share your point of view or expertise on a topic or event of importance to Newarkers. We’re accepting 600- to 1,000-word op-eds for possible publication on, so send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Lionel Latouche is the Lead Multisystemic Therapist at Community Solutions, Inc. in Newark. Latouche earned his master in social work at New York University and he is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/10th-festival-de-la-familia-min.jpg193266Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-21 11:55:352017-09-21 12:04:27Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Festival de la Familia this weekend
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/newark-museum-front.jpg384940Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-19 09:16:042017-09-20 08:33:55Late Thursdays will return to Newark Museum in October
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/music-education-notes.jpg314628Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-18 12:27:502017-09-20 08:44:31VH1 delivered the first batch of instruments to Newark schools for new music education program
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ironside_newark_view_looking_east_720-min.jpg357720Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-14 06:48:532017-09-20 08:42:06Ironside Newark building receives top tech certification ahead of next year's opening
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/grammy-museum-experience.jpg302600Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-13 07:07:322017-09-20 08:41:16Grammy Experience Museum will open in Newark on October 20th
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/bcl_halsey-street-min-e1504913351741.jpg8291211Andaiye Taylorhttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngAndaiye Taylor2017-09-12 00:18:572017-09-20 08:59:05Another incentive to shop locally: How about a tax break or rebate check?
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/bcl_rain-barrel-min-e1505009547814.jpg5471024Brick City Livehttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngBrick City Live2017-09-11 09:02:022017-09-11 09:02:02Downtown Newark will pilot city's rain barrel program
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/greenleaf-own.jpg6751200Andaiye Taylorhttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngAndaiye Taylor2017-09-08 15:10:532017-09-20 08:40:26'Greenleaf' star Kim Hawthorne is back home for the Newark International Film Festival
http://brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/salaam-ice-cream-1-min.jpg20212694Vince Baglivohttp://www.brickcitylive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/bcl-white-21x.pngVince Baglivo2017-09-06 10:16:062017-09-19 21:43:57Locally and family-owned Salaam Ice Cream Parlor opens on Bergen Street
Residents and visitors to Newark’s South Ward will be able to enjoy everything from old-fashioned root beer floats to bean pie year-round at Salaam Ice Cream Parlor, recently opened by the Muhammad family at 1024 Bergen Street