Police and officials in Montclair discuss the benefits of the Insight approach training they receive through Intersections’s Police/Community Enrichment Training initiative. Jamie Price of the Sargent Shriver...
Uniform Justice is a new original play created from a collaboration between TE'A at Intersections International, the Retaliatory Violence Insight Project (RVIP) at George Mason University, the Memphis Mayor's...
Uniform Justice was created by TE’A (Theatre, Engagement & Action) at Intersections International as a community-engaging aspect of a much larger initiative called the Retaliatory Violence Insight Project (RVIP), an innovative demonstration project funded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to help police departments nationwide address retaliatory violence in the communities they serve. Dr. James Price, the director of this initiative, linked this problem to the state of relationships between the police and their communities. When these two groups are in conflict, they are less likely to work together to make the collective community safer. Memphis, TN and Lowell, MA were selected by the DOJ to engage with this project. A division of the Memphis police department underwent an extensive training in Insight, an approach to conflict analysis and transformation that essentially asks, “what are we doing when we are using our minds to engage and disengage in conflict?” The goal was to equip police officers with the interpersonal skills to transform conflicts before they escalate into crime.
As the effectiveness of the Insight training was realized, TE’A was recruited by the RVIP and the Mayors Innovation Delivery Team in Memphis to create a performance piece for the entire community, using the Insight approach in the process of creating it. A local theatre company, Hattiloo Theatre, was also recruited to work with TE’A, providing actors, outreach support, and production support in creating the performance piece.
The play itself was inspired by Insight conversations conducted between the playwright, Chuk Obasi, and the Hattioo theatre actors, all of whom were residents of Memphis, as well as conversations with local law enforcement, about what was important for them to communicate in regard to the existing barriers between police and community. The company members, having been introduced to the Insight approach, also carried out conversations with members of the community, gathering stories to share and process.
As a culmination of the RVIP’s offering, Uniform Justice ran for five performances at Southwest Tennessee Community College in March 2014, seen by over 400 community members and law enforcement officials.
The overall impact of the RVIP was very positive and significant. Some key examples:
• In Memphis, 80% of surveyed officers either agreed or strongly agreed that the Insight training enhanced their ability to defuse the feelings of threat citizens have about their encounters with police officers.
• Every officer interviewed by the RVIP commented that they are making fewer arrests as a result of their Insight training.
• Many requests have been made to bring Uniform Justice to new communities.
Uniform Justice now serves as an example of what community engagement can accomplish, as well as a catalyst to spark engagement and healthy dialogue in communities where the themes resonate.