Dover community members get a seat at the table as part of the new Police Chief’s Advisory Committee

DOVER, Del. – Dover Police are deploying a new tactic, taking nine community members who walk the city’s streets every day and giving them a seat at the table to have a say in how policing is done here in the place they call home.

“So we really want to look at that and figure out how can we make it equal and how can we make sure everybody is being served in the right way,” says Chanda Jackson-Short, one of the new committee members. She holds a Doctor of Social Work degree from Capella University, serves as President of the Capital School Board and as a board member for several nonprofit organizations.

Dover has finalized it’s new Police Chief’s Advisory Committee and some of its members say they hope this will build positive relationships between citizens and law enforcement. “Building that trust between community members and police and making sure that policing is done in a way that’s appropriate to the community and is benefiting the community,” says Arqum Rashid, one of the new committee members. He serves as the Imam and Resident Scholar at the Islamic Society of Central Delaware, which is the only mosque in Dover and the largest in the State of Delaware.

The group will meet quarterly to talk about community needs and police-community relations which may eventually lead to changes in the department or community as a whole.

“I need the members to challenge me on what we do and why we do it because that bold challenge will make sure that we are checking ourselves when it’s time for us to check ourselves on something,” says Dover Police Chief Tom Johnson.

The committee members range in age, gender, race, religious affiliation and more which some say will create an opportunity for more voices to be heard. “Part of it, I think, stems from lack of awareness and understanding of other people’s situations, their beliefs, things like that,” says Jackson-Short.

Some of the members say, given recent discussions about police reform across the nation, they’re looking forward to taking on this new role as a way to create change on a local level. “I think it’s important to be involved in initiatives like this and not just protest about the situation, not just speak out against the situation or repost things on Instagram and Facebook but rather take that initiative and try to be part of that change,” says Imam Rashid.

Chief Johnson says the members will likely serve in terms, which may help get more people involved in the process. The committee’s first meeting will be on September 30th.

Categories: Delaware, Local News