By Thomas Canavan
There has been an enormous amount of tension between law enforcement and the communities they serve for the past several years. The strain experienced across the nation has made police departments feel unappreciated, while entire communities feel as though they are being targeted, particularly in communities of color.
Recent data shows it is more dangerous to be a law enforcement officer today than any other time in our country’s history. The 2021 Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, revealed that 2021 was the deadliest year for law enforcement officers in our nation’s history, surpassing 1930 to gain that tragic title.
At the same time, our nation’s communities are experiencing incredible tension. In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund created a national bulletin board to share best practices that bring law enforcement and the communities they serve together. We knew that, in the midst of tragedy, reconciliation could only occur when communities and law enforcement come together to find solutions.
We also created the National Law Enforcement and Community Relations Advisory Board. The Board includes Dwayne Crawford, Executive Director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; Teresa Gerton, President and CEO of the National Academy for Public Administration; Steven LaGanke, Global Marketing Manager for Defense, DuPont; Sharon Sayles Belton, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for Thomson Reuters; and Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. Together, we looked at ways to strengthen our commitment to supporting law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
From that Advisory Bord, CALEB, the Community Alliances and Law Enforcement Bulletin Network, was born. The digital social platform, the first of its kind, informs the community about what law enforcement is doing to enhance its relationships, and it provides a place for dialogue to happen between communities across the country. While conversations could take place on social media, we found that there was no real place designed specifically for this type of dialogue on a national scale. This platform has the potential to be transformative if people know that it exists, incorporate what they know, and share that knowledge.
When CALEB started, we created a cohort of core users who met periodically to share ideas. Now, we are opening up these discussions to all CALEB members, following through on our vision for what we wanted CALEB to become.
On February 3, we are inviting law enforcement and members of the community to come together for the first in a series of roundtable discussions created to improve public safety, increase community engagement, and strengthen relationships between law enforcement officers and citizens by sharing innovative and impactful programs happening across the country. These roundtable discussions will highlight successful programs that are shared within the CALEB network.
In this first roundtable next week, Sharon Sayles Belton, the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for Thomson Reuters and Former Mayor, Minneapolis will launch the series with a timely and insightful discussion focused on the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, which reduces reliance on the formal criminal justice system by focusing on better engaging public health support. Roundtable attendees will hear about the adoption of the LEAD program in Minneapolis and the potential of implementing this program in their community.
Readers can join the Roundtable by downloading the CALEB app from your app store or signing up on the web version of the platform.
CALEB is a free network for people to communicate with one another, learn best practices, and bring those back to their community as informed citizens about successful programs that have worked across the country. It provides access to subject matter experts, resources for critical issues, innovative Law Enforcement discussions, and community-based solutions. Our hope is that participants will be equipped with the tools they need to partner with their local government, their police chief, and police officers in their neighborhood to be the change they wish to see in their community.
More information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund can be found at NLEOMF.org.
Thomas Canavan is the Executive Director of the National Law Enforcement Museum and serves on the management team of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
About the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve. The Memorial Fund maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which honors the names of all of the 22,611 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The National Law Enforcement Museum (LawEnforcementMuseum.org) at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building is committed to preserving the history of American law enforcement and sharing the experiences of service and sacrifice for generations to come.