Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Next Generation: Coffee House Conversations

Some people, even police officers, are visionaries with hearts and minds that give substance to dreams.  Over the past eight or nine months since New Horizons began offering our Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations series, last January, I have had the good fortune to meet a few of these officers. Two in particular of the local Frederick City Police became my friends, Captain Jason Keckler and Corporal Rebecca Carrado.
Captain Jason Keckler,
police officer with a vision.

Even back in early July when I wrote an article for my Anastasia The Storyteller blog site titled, “The Challenge of Humanizing Our Community-Police Relationships,” I was certain I had, without ever intending, developed genuine friendships with these officers. 

Topping off that surprising and, thus, unexpected occurrence was an earlier police officer friendship Sue and I had established, about ten years back, with former Frederick City Police Chief, Kim Dine, now Chief of the Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.

And, then there has been one more delightful and inspiring new friend, also a former police officer, Karl Bickel, a Frederick County candidate for last year’s Sherriff race, and a former college professor of criminal justice, now retired, enjoying his gardening and volunteer projects upon the re-election of the incumbent, Sheriff Charles Jenkins.

There couldn’t be a more important, nor potentially challenging community issue these days than citizen-police relationships. I now realize, while I did not before, that citizen-police trust and cooperation is a key to building safe communities.

This group of officers has, however,  opened my eyes to this reality, along with a whole new range of other important possibilities where citizen involvement and community policing are concerned. And they have, thus,  helped me see formerly unimagined potentialities for citizens and police, working together to better our communities – and – expand opportunities that ensure the growth and safety of our communities.

One week from today, Saturday, September 19, a vision, or at least I surmise it to be that, that Jason handed off to me – and – my colleague in everything, Sue deVeer, is about to manifest with a scope that only time and traveling together could possibly  bring to fruition; Coffee House Conversations On Humanizing Citizen-Police Relations; a program specially designed to develop ground rules that will help to ensure productive, problem-solving dialogue between citizens and police officers in Frederick .

(I don’t know that these or any other officers would ever show up at my house for dinner. But imagine this, I am actually wanting to invite them. And, I am now even on a first name basis with police officers! I never, heretofore, even considered such an anomaly to be a part of my life! Who could have thought such a thing?)

I don’t know for sure what exactly the vision was that Jason held, back there in late January, at the end of our very first Coffee House Conversation. But I am certain he had already seen that New Horizons was offering something that couldn’t but help our City Police with their community outreach objectives. 

So with a special kind of visionary capability on his part and Rebecca’s, New Horizons will, next Saturday, September 19, take the next steps forward to expand the potential of community cooperation through dialogue in Frederick, Maryland where lots of people, including Sue and myself, want to build a better than ordinary community in a municipality that truly aspires to be exceptional.

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