In 1999 , the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) asked former Superintendent Edward Davis if he would coordinate a meeting with representatives from various racial/ethnic groups in the city. He complied, and the Race Relations Council was was established with a facilitated discussion on racial profiling. The discussion eventually evolved with a broader discussion focused on race relations. The forum provides an opportunity to talk about varied perspectives, and develop suggestions and recommendations for police and community training and education.
As a result of the success of that initial meeting of the Race Relations Council, Davis and PERF realized that there was a need for community engagement as part of racial profiling efforts. I n August 2000, the Lowell Police Department received grant funding from the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) as a Peacemaker Site. The grant, titled “Police As Problem-Solvers/Peacemakers,” was designed to build police-community relations by developing mutually agreed upon expectations about service delivery.
This award was to support and assist the Race Relations Council along with the development of a curriculum for training of community members and police officials. Lowell's initial strategy of training has come to include an approach to of race relations and with a motto of “what we can learn from each other.” Lowell is only 1 of 5 communities that receive funding as a Peacemaker site.
Today's Race Relations Council
As it exists now, the Race Relations Council is a group of citizens and officers who have come together in Lowell to discuss improving relations between diverse community members and police officers. The Lowell Police Department's Training Director and Superintendent of Police are key members in the group so that policy decisions can be made.
The goals of the Council are:
The Council meets monthly in different community locations. The Race Relations Council has been used as a conduit by which expectations are discussed and identified. The ideas generated are used to provide a foundation for the future trainings at Lowell Police Department's Training Institute, which currently trains over 1100 officers annually from communities throughout Massachusetts
City of Lowell Community Race Relations Council
The Lowell Community Race Relations program offers monthly council meetings where members of the community and law enforcement agency can take the opportunity to talk about varied perspectives, and develop suggestions and recommendations for police community training and education.
The current council is made up of a group of citizens (including members of the youth community) and officers who have come together in Lowell to discuss improving relations between divers community members and police officers. The Lowell Police Department's Training Director and Superintendent of Police are also key members in that group so that policy decisions can be made.
The City of Lowell Race Relations Program also offers training for Law Enforcement professionals who seek to establish or improve their own Race Relations program.
Race Relations Council Recommendations
The Council has identified several topics to be discussed. These include gangs, intergenerational differences, domestic violence, racism and racial profiling, different traditions of policing, language barriers, and cultural differences.
Recommendations made by the group over the past year include:
- a community video that explains and presents the different cultural perspectives and homeland experiences with police
produced Bilingual Television Call-In Shows that highlight different minority communities and specific issues of concern for each community group in Khmer and English
increased outreach in the minority community for participation in the LPD's Citizen's Police Academy and Student Police Academy
invited officers to participate in community meetings, church services, and ethnic gatherings
increased involvement of representatives from each racial/ethnic group in the Race Relations Council
reviewing and examining Lowell Police Department training practices.
A critical component of this initiative is the evaluation activities being conducted by Jack Green and Jack McDevitt of Northeastern University. Jack McDevitt's research on racial profiling and race relations strengthens the work and provides additional informations for the application of this best practice.
The Race Relations Council has already been identified as a model for replication, and recommendations have already begun to take form, including a draft curriculum and resource guide.
Click here to learn more about the current activities and initiatives of the Race Relations Council.
Lowell Police Department Race Relations Training Curriculum
While the agenda vary from training to training, all Race Relations Training sessions conducted by the Lowell Police Department cover the following topics and materials:
- An understanding of community perspectives with presentations from various council members.
- A discussion of logistics for creating Race Relations Council initiatives, including the planning process, potential barriers, philosophy, and resources.
- A discussion of the necessary partnerships that are key to the success of any race relations council.
- A case study of Lowell's Race Relations Council, exploring their activities and initiatives.
- A resource guide that includes textual reference and web sites for exploring topics such as cooperation and collaboration, facilitation, policing, and community relations.
- An evaluation of the Lowell Police Department training program.
The Receipt of Additional Federal Grants
The Lowell Police Department has received 2 training and technical assistance grants from the United States Department of Justice – COPS Office to train, educate and support 82 police and sheriffs agencies from across the United States on the Lowell Police Department's Race Relations Model u nder the following initiatives:
Creating a culture of diversity
To find out more about upcoming training opportunities, please call 978-937-3228.
To date, the Lowell Police Department has had the opportunity to train the following agencies:
||Kansas City, MO
||New Haven, CT
||New Orleans, LA
|Charlotte -- Mecklenburg, NC
||Palm Beach, FL
||Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, FL
|Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, FL
||San Antonio, TX
Feedback from Past Training Participants
"We had an extremely positive feeling of the training. The success with Lowell's program is evident in hearing the community representatives speak of their experiences with the LPD and vice versa. Both the police and community representatives were so sincere and honest about the experience..." more
--Officer Casey Ryall, Crime Analysis Unit, Brookline Police Department
"The most valuable information I got from the conference was the need to educate regarding the cultures making up your community. That awareness was an logical starting point to identify actual and potential problems..." more
--Major Richard F. Benton, Indianapolis Police Department
"The one thing that hit home the most with this training was the mock scenario between the gangs and the police. They traded places and even though Community Policing is somewhat ingrained in Lowell, it was interesting to watch the police being "patted down" by the kids and yelled at etc. Even these officers who were obviously attuned to community policing - cringed somewhat. Our officers weren't comfortable with it either. But the kids had a ball. So I think the issues are probably more on "our" side than the communities. more
--Liz Allison, Indianapolis Police Department
"We enjoyed the training--it was nice to hear from community members about their participation on the council. The most valuable information was about how they involved the various immigrant communities in the council and the use of cable access TV to reach the immigrant communities. In fact, we are considering producing a cable TV show like the one done in Lowell. The training was well organized and the people at the Lowell PD Academy were very helpful and hospitable.
--Pamela Beal, Buffalo New York