One of the things we love to talk about on this podcast is how to take data and make it tell a story. This week’s guests are doing just that on the topic of Community Policing and making sure that there is equal coverage for both the Community part, as well as the Policing part. Ama Romaine, co-founder and Chair, and Wayne Harris, Executive Director of The Initiative: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership, join us to describe how they are taking quantitative and qualitative data from both communities and the police agencies to identify the current relationship between them, and how they are aligned and misaligned when it comes to community policing.
The conversation about [community] policing… really needs to get to where we recognize that we’re in this together. That there’s very little separation between the men and women wearing a police uniform, and the people that they are working with.” – Wayne Harris
What we are really trying to do is give voice to individuals in their communities and create a way for local leaders, for police leaders, for anyone, really, to be able to understand what a community needs. And then let’s focus on creating and providing those needs for that community. That’s what’s going to create thriving communities in the end and, frankly, reduce the need for law enforcement to solve every single problem that we have.” – Ama Romaine

Listen on mobile platforms:  Apple Podcasts LogoApple Podcasts |  Spotify LogoSpotify


Information Inspirations:

Our fellow geek, Casey Flaherty talks about his recent blog post series with Chad Main of the Technically Legal Podcast.

Is a workcation or bleisure travel in your future? A survey of business/leisure travelers seems to point in that direction.
Contact Us:
Twitter: @gebauerm or @glambert.
Voicemail: 713-487-7270
Music: As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

Marlene Gebauer  0:17

Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert  0:23

And I’m Greg Lambert. Marlene, this week, we have an outstanding interview with Wayne Harris and Ama Romaine from The Initiative: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership. So we talked about how three Howard Law School alum, came together and decided to use community data to tell the story of the community policing. And, man, it’s just such a great conversation.

Marlene Gebauer  0:49

Yeah, it really, really was. And again, like so many of our conversations, we had this sort of separate great conversation after we stopped recording. And I have to give a shout out to Sameena Kluck for introducing us. Thank you so much for that. So stick around for this interview. You’re really gonna want to hear this. But for now, let’s get to this week’s information inspirations.

Greg Lambert  1:17

Well, Marlene, sticking with the theme of storytelling, our fellow geek, Casey Flaherty was on the Technically Legal Podcast with Chad Main this week, talking about his blog series on 3 Geeks on value storytelling. And I don’t know how you did it. But somehow or another, Chad got the interview down to about 25 minutes. So you know, I say that because there’s articles I’ve read from Casey that took me much longer than 25 minutes to read. So congratulations, Chad.

Marlene Gebauer  1:49

We tease gently. We tease very gentle.

Greg Lambert  1:51

Yeah. So if Casey, if you’re listening, I’m getting your stuff is great. And I mean that sincerely. If anyone’s ever read any of Casey’s stuff, both on three geeks, and in other places, he understands what the good and relevant topics are for legal operations out there. So in this interview, Casey talks about how some law firm leaders turn to tech to solve a problem as though tech in and of itself is going to solve the problem. And and he’s saying it’s, there’s many other things that are out there that are causing issues, and just throwing tech at the problem, won’t solve it in and of itself. And Casey talks about some of the biggest obstacles to innovation in the legal field, is the fact that people are just so busy, that they just don’t have the time or the space to innovate. And he was saying that it takes this hitting the pause button to do the work correctly, but that no one wants to take the time away from the day to day work to focus on real innovation. He also mentioned that it’s that I know a lot of us will think well, that’s because the incentives are screwed up because of the billable hour. And once again, he says yeah, that’s part of the problem. But that’s not all of the problem. There’s some serious structural problems in legal that really hamper innovation. So Chad always does a good job of interviewing people at the Technically Legal podcast in this his interview with Casey is definitely worth the listen.

Marlene Gebauer  3:26

Cool. So according to a study done by Priceline, it seems that the result of changes in the modern workplace due to pandemic has resulted in an increase of workcations or bleisure travel that Did you know about this?

Greg Lambert  3:42

Oh my god… somebody worked really hard to throw those words together.

Marlene Gebauer  3:47

I’m telling you, I’m telling you, whoever does these things, like I feel like there’s like somebody in a room that just reads the news and kind of comes up with these things and throws them out there. So were you Were you familiar with this trend?

Greg Lambert  3:59

No, but I’m thinking, Do you know those little magnets where there’s like two words or two parts of words, and you can just put them together? I think that’s what they do.

Marlene Gebauer  4:07

I need to start doing that. Well, you know, I guess I sort of knew this was happening. I didn’t really consciously think about it, but you know, I’d be on teams calls or Zoom calls and people would be in these exotic spots like Frankfurt or the mountains of Colorado and you know, I know they don’t live in those places. So, you know, workcations pretty self explanatory combining work and vacation time at a new place, bleisure I you know, I was like, Alright, I’m looking that up. That’s it’s basically the same, you know, business and leisure at the same time. So hotel business reports that 60% of a 2020 survey, the respondents say that remote work has encouraged them to take more workcations and 34% say they extend trips because they have the ability to work from anywhere. So in 2020, the hour average length of hotel stay has increased from 12% From 2019. Apparently parents are taking advantage of this trend, which, you know, I guess makes sense if your kids are schooling remotely mine or not, so, can’t do that. And 66% of all respondents plan to travel more this year and take advantage of the ability to combine work and play. You know, wow, this is this is this. This is very interesting. So, you know, Greg, where are you planning on going?

Greg Lambert  5:26

I’m going back to Europe at some point.

Marlene Gebauer  5:28

Yeah. All right. I think I think

Greg Lambert  5:31

Although work and with a six hour timezone difference to me is maybe a little more difficult but a little a little bit of a challenge. That’s all right. They don’t go to they don’t go to dinner until after eight o’clock in Europe anyway.

Marlene Gebauer  5:45

That’s that’s not that’s not good for for maintaining weight.

Greg Lambert  5:50

Yeah, that’s my problem. All right. Well, on that note that in this week’s information inspirations.

Marlene Gebauer  6:05

When we think of the topic of community policing, we tend to focus on the policing part of that phrase, and leave off the community piece. Today’s guests want to equalize that topic and bring the community back into the process by focusing on data points on what is going on in the community that require attention beyond just crime and criminals.

Greg Lambert  6:27

We’d like to welcome Wayne Harris, Executive Director, and Ama Romaine Chair of The Initiative: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership. Both of you welcome to The Geek in Review. We’re really excited to have you on here.

Wayne Harris  6:40

Thank you. We’re excited to be here.

Ama Romaine  6:41

Thanks for having us.

Marlene Gebauer  6:43

So one of the topics that we absolutely love to talk about is how you enable data to help you tell a story. Now, with the initiative, you’re helping leverage data when it comes to healing community police relationships around the United States. Why did three Howard Law School alums come together to start the initiative? And what are the primary objectives for the organization?

Ama Romaine  7:06

Well, when we decided to form the initiative, we came together in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, one of our co founders, Vicki Robinson, is she was actually a Howard law classmate. And Nadine Jones is she was not a classmate, but she attended Howard after we did, but we were college classmates. You know, after George Floyd was killed, we I think as mothers in general, as mothers of black sons in particular, we really felt that doing nothing was a luxury that we simply could no longer afford. While we understood the importance of marching and felt strongly that marching serves an important role in driving social change. We also felt strongly that it was important to do something that would drive lasting change, when the marching inevitably stopped. And as Howard law trained lawyers, we you know, one of the things that we we understand sort of deeply ingrained is that a lawyer is either a parasite on society or a social engineer. And we I think, really leaned into this moment and felt that we had a duty to use our legal training, to drive the kind of change that we felt was necessary on this issue. And then we thought, you know, none of us are even really litigators. None of us work in the policing space. We’re all corporate executives. But we are in the business of driving change, organizational change. And we felt strongly that we could bring a unique perspective to this issue, to the dialogue around the failures in policing, particularly as it relates to communities of color and the African American community in specific. And we really felt that the way to bridge the divide was through partnership, right, I mean, the one thing that you that there was so much polarizing discourse, and the thing that we felt that was missing was really bringing the two sides together. And our vision is really healthy communities anchored in our shared humanity, and that that’s not a line that you would see on our website right now. But we just came out of our strategic planning session. And we’ve really evolved even as an organization and what we truly believe is that every community needs to be healthy. And to do that, we really have to see each other and hear each other. And we have to, you know, sort of feel our shared humanity. And we hope to achieve this vision by connecting police and civilians with programs, solutions, and ideas to foster healthier communities. And you know, you talked about the importance of data to drive change, and we even in a world a world of work, we understand that what gets measured gets done. And the approach that we’re bringing to this is let’s focus on measurable change because if you do that and you take all the emotion out of out of the issue, but you’re also able to really drive progress forward.

Greg Lambert  9:51

Yeah, I’m I’m one of those people that when I come out of a strategic planning meeting, I’m always super motivated or so I imagined hopefully you’re like me, and you have this. Now you get this kind of desire now to push things forward.

Ama Romaine  10:05

Well, we were it was incredibly energized. And I actually am one of those people that dread strategic planning sessions. But I do love, you know, having clarity of purpose and clarity of vision, right. And I think what you, if you if it’s well done you, you do come out of it with that, you know, very clear path ahead. So we’re excited about it.

Greg Lambert  10:25

Wayne, you yourself have well over 30 years of police experience and and, you know, there’s been a number of community policing efforts or police reform that I’m sure you and other leaders in the police force have seen and tried many times before. What is it that you see in The Initiative that makes this effort different from the ones that have been tried before?

Wayne Harris  10:53

What are you know, it’s an interesting question, because the law enforcement industry is famous for trying to self critique. And when they identify opportunities for improvement, we, you know, set about designing all of these strategies, whether it’s implicit bias training, or, you know, a new defensive tactics strategy, or a new community engagement strategy. The difference with the initiative is that this is something coming from the outside looking in. And part of what drew me to Ama and Nadine and Vicki in the first place was because they took their passion for what everyone in this country experienced, actually everyone on the planet experience, instead of sitting idly by and just being angry about it, they decided to take their skills and their expertise, and put something together that was constructive, that could actually make a difference. And they were wise enough to not assume that they knew and understood the equation entirely on their own. So they reached out to law enforcement professionals from across the country. And they were willing to listen and put aside some preconceived notions and say, Okay, maybe this isn’t all about the police, maybe there are other contributing factors that are coming into play. And maybe we can design something that can sort of speak to all of that. Now, the beauty of this is, by definition, community policing is a collaborative effort between the community and the police department that serves them in an effort to address quality of life issues, like crime. So what we’ve put together at the initiative is exactly in that line. It is it’s a method by which we can, you know, help police agencies self evaluate, to look for areas of opportunity within their organizations, and three specific areas, that being community engagement or those being community engagement, organizational development, and training. And as far as we have another platform Central Plus, that actually does the very same thing for the community, asking the community, how they’re feeling about their police department, but also asking them how they’re feeling about, you know, issues such as health care, and education and jobs and food availability, and just resource availability. So that is, almost by definition, what community policing is. So this, this program that we’ve put together, this organization that’s been built is very much in line with the best practices of policing and how our communities can actually come out more healthy.

Marlene Gebauer  13:36

And Wayne, I have to apologize. We kind of got ahead of ourselves. Can you tell us how you got involved in the initiative?

Wayne Harris  13:44

Certainly. So well, a little bit of background on me. I retired as a deputy chief of police from Rochester, New York. And, you know, my last assignment with them was as the deputy chief of community engagement and relations prior to that I was Deputy Chief of Administration. And it my position is, you know, the Community Engagement Specialist sort of came about because of a couple of incidents that had occurred here in Rochester, one of which was an arrest in an open air drug market. Another one was a Black Lives Matter rally where we ended up arresting 74 individuals and detaining two African American reporters, which ultimately turned out to be what CNN got ahold of, and it became sort of a national and national story once that had occurred. Following those two events, our City Council convened a hearing where the public was invited in and asked to give their perspective on the Rochester police department and it was difficult to sit through and sometimes loud and very emotional, but following that our mayor thought it was necessary to send me out into the street to come back with specifics not necessarily just you know what people were shouting in council chambers, but to come back with some real concrete, you know, feelings, but also come back with some recommendations on how we can improve. So I did that for about a year and a half. And, you know, I, when I left, I decided I didn’t really want to get back into a uniform, but I wanted to still work in the industry and see if I can help make a difference. And through my career, I developed some skill sets that I thought were would be helpful in engaging different sides and sort of facilitating conversation. Through my association doing like consultancy, and my association with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives I met Nadine Jones. Nadine and we actually asked her a question on an entirely separate issue. But, you know, she and I became friends. And we continued to communicate. And at some point when the idea for the initiative began to, to gel, she reached out and she asked whether or not I’d consider being an advisor, and one of the people that they spoke to in the law enforcement industry to help kind of steer the conversation in a more holistic way. And I said, certainly, because it spoke to what I knew to be best practices. And it spoke to the way I tried to run my career and manage myself through over 30 years of this job. By eventually, and this is all Ama’s fault. By the way, I eventually ran for a position in the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or more commonly known as NOBLE. I had been one of their national executive board members for a couple of years, but I decided to run for the second vice presidency. My campaign, unfortunately was not successful. And immediately after the campaign was over, Ama contacted Nadine and said, Hmm, this might be an opportunity. And perhaps we should ask Wayne whether or not he’d be interested in serving as our executive director. And I absolutely jumped at the chance because I, I am absolutely 100% certain that what we’re doing with the initiative can help not only police departments across the country, but municipalities across the country, just be healthier.

Ama Romaine  17:18

I’m so happy you asked that question, Marlene, because I was going to jump in and say, and you’re probably wondering, why Wayne? And how do we as we started when we launched the organization, I should note that our three companies that we worked for were founding donors of our organization. So G6 Hospitality, Microsoft and Kuehne+Nagel. And Nadine was actually our first executive director. So she was she, you know, she took a leave of absence, and she sort of gave life to the company to the organization. And as we were evolving, one of the things that became really clear, frankly, is, you know, the reality is that no matter how much passion we feel about this issue, none of us have fired a gun. None of us have worn a uniform. And so there’s a certain lack of credibility that I think we had in terms of being able to speak to the change that we thought was necessary, right. But for us, it was very it was from the outside looking in. And we felt it was really important to have someone leading this organization who could really deeply understand both sides of the equation. And who could speak to both issues with credibility. And Wayne is just as you can hear, I mean, he’s a phenomenal leader. I didn’t know him as a law enforcement officer, but I’m pretty sure he was phenomenal then to. And one of the things that we really tried to do and hope we will, you know, this organization will be able to do is prove that there are effective ways to police right there, there there police officers out there all day, every day doing a good job. And unfortunately, what gets highlighted are the instances that are less effective or not effective at all. And what we would like to do is be the organization that shines a light on what’s working, understands why what’s working, is working, and then find a way to have more of it. And there’s just nobody better to take that message forward. And really take it forward with credibility and get buy in, we think, than Wayne, so we’re super excited to have him on board.

Greg Lambert  19:26

And when you you define community policing in a much broader definition, and I think a lot of people do because I think when you hear community policing, people tend to isolate on on crime and mostly isolate on the criminals and not necessarily think that in I heard a public defender talked about earlier this week that people forget there are also victims of crime that that there are also experiences that happen in the community, other needs means that the police are being asked to do so it’s not specifically about crime or only crime. So I appreciate the fact that that you gave that much broader definition when we talked about the phrase community policing.

Wayne Harris  20:15

Well, and you know, in all honesty, the law enforcement industry did a very, very poor job in defining community policing, when it became a buzzword a number of years ago. You know, the history of policing is pretty broad, as well. But, you know, in the 1860s, Sir Robert Peel from London, actually, he’s the founder of the Metropolitan Police Service. And he and his staff at the time, developed what are called the Peelian Principles. And the general premise is that the police are the people and the people are the police. And that we are all accountable to one another for ensuring the health of our community. And if everything is done, right, in the best case scenario, there would be no need for the police, there would be no violence that was occurring, there would be no crime that was occurring, because everyone would be on the same page. Now, unfortunately, we’ve also moved farther and farther away from what he wrote back in the 1860s. But it speaks to where we need to be. And it’s really the basis of the of the concept of community policing, you know, we’ve in part of what we try to do with the initiative, is get people to understand that the men and women that wear these uniforms, are human beings, they live in our communities, they’re our neighbors, they’re subjected to the same fears, and expectations and trauma that everyone else is. It’s also true that police officers are victims of trauma, not just, you know, physical trauma, but emotional trauma, psychological trauma, just the same as everyone else. And often when I when I lecture, and I go around, you know, I tell people, that there’s not a police officer on the planet that walks away from this career unscathed. You know, they carry the things that they see with them all the time, every single day forever, and some cope better than others, and others develop issues that are very, very difficult to address. But they’re human beings. And honestly, that’s, that’s kind of where this conversation, not ours, but the conversation about policing in general really needs to get to where we recognize that we’re in this together, that there’s very little separation between the men and women wearing a police uniform, and the people that they’re there working with.

Marlene Gebauer  22:48

And I know that you want to highlight that discussion using data and proof, as Ama said, so let’s dive into the data that you’re using at the initiative. And this is this is three questions. You know, what types of what type of data are you collecting? How are you getting that data? And what are you doing with it?

Ama Romaine  23:13

Before we, before we even talk about what data we’re collecting? I would take us a little bit to the approach.

Marlene Gebauer  23:19

Absolutely. Go ahead.

Ama Romaine  23:20

So it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like a GPS, right? And we just talked about this, right? If you can’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’re starting from, right. That’s just the fundamental premise. And I think a lot of what we’ve seen, and we could all we could all sort of acknowledge this, that when we talk about failures in policing, or even failures in communities, right, why communities are are struggling or broken or not thriving. There are a lot of conclusions there a lot of conclusory statements that are made. What we don’t, and haven’t, frankly, seen is the assessment, right? Which is, can we all agree on what is wrong? What is broken specifically? Because if you understand what’s broken, then you can fix that thing. You can take steps to fixing that thing, and what is broken, might be different in different agencies. But you could only understand that if you do an assessment, right? It’s it’s like it’s table stakes, you have to understand where you are to understand where you want to go. And I think a lot of what we’ve seen, and we see this in companies, you don’t even have to sort of just, you know, focus on policing, but something goes wrong. Someone experiences discrimination at a company, then the fix is let’s go train everybody on anti discrimination, right? That’s the fix. And what we don’t do as well, is really try to understand what caused the problem, right? And is that is that training, what everybody needs? Is that training the thing that’s really going to solve the problem? It’s the root cause analysis. And so that’s really what we’re doing. And by doing the assessment, then we are able to gather what we’re calling data, right? But we’re getting information that tells us how agencies are organized, how they hire, how they train, what behaviors they reward. We talked about trauma, right, how officers are faring in terms of their mental health and their well being. All of these things really help us to understand the health of an organization. And every company does this right, we do our own organizational assessments. And you need some common basis by which you can start understanding all agencies, right, all 18,000 agencies across the country, I mean, I think right now, also, what we do is there’s a lot of things happening in pockets. And I think there’s just not a shared framework for understanding policing. And what we’re trying to do is create that shared framework. And then that’s driving the data that we gather on the on the agency side, and Wayne can add some more, if you’d like. But then on the community side, the tool that’s assessing sort of the health of the community, we’re looking at what you call social determinants of health. Right? So things like access to resources, how close is your nearest pharmacy? How many pharmacies might you have in your community? How many grocery stores are, are there in your community? Are you living in a food desert? Things that we take that some of us might take for granted, right, like if you have multiple pharmacies in your community, and you need a COVID shot, you can go to any one of them, and it probably won’t take you maybe an hour these days, maybe longer. But, you know, you could probably do it without having to take hours off work, right. But if you only have one pharmacy, and everyone has to get there, it changes the dynamic, right? It changes what has to happen, what how much time you have to take off work to get your shot. So it’s really just understanding all of these factors, which go into creating a healthy community. Because at the end of the day, the reason this is relevant, the reason both pieces are relevant. Nadine has this analogy, if you look at a community, like a wheel, and Wayne said the police or the community, the communities police, we’re all one. If the community is a wheel, any spokes on the wheel that’s broken. Who do we call? Not Ghostbusters, right? We call the police. And then they get called to fix everything. And the truth is, they’re not equipped to fix everything. They’re not even funded to fix everything. And so we really have to think holistically about our communities. And that’s really the data that were those are the inputs that we’re looking for. What are the determinants of a healthy community? What are the determinants of a healthy agency, and really trying to create some a level playing field really to assess those things?

Marlene Gebauer  27:21

And you’re using a survey to do that? What tools are you using?

Ama Romaine  27:26

Yes, we use survey tools. So a survey for the community, it takes in eight minutes to complete. And for the officers, it takes about less than 30, it’s probably 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Marlene Gebauer  27:35

Now, are you finding that people are sort of open to sharing the information? Is it is it hard to collect?

Ama Romaine  27:42

I’m just going to say one part. And I’m going to let Wayne answer that what I will say is that we’re not wrong, we’re early. I think it’s incredibly difficult to to get the information that we’re seeking. But I think we can speak more to the why.

Wayne Harris  27:43

So that’s actually a very, very good question. Um, because we have two different tools, we’re talking about two separate bits of data for our program called Central. Central allows for, you know, police executives or their designee by way of a survey to self evaluate the areas that I mentioned a little bit earlier. Some of the questions are quantitative and not qualitative. And what we have seen there, there are some police agencies that are a little less willing to give up some of the quantitative data that we ask about, and it’s not that they’re hiding anything, but this is a, this is a culture that we have to understand, you know, it’s difficult for the police to to open themselves up and allow for others to examine them. And

Marlene Gebauer  28:46

there might be worried about misinterpretation or you know, something like that.

Wayne Harris  28:51

Sure. I mean, for the for any number of reasons. Now, the both programs are free of charge, and the agencies are all anonymized. So they you know, I wouldn’t be able to see what Boise Idaho as a civilian, I wouldn’t be able to see what Boise you know scored or what Rochester PD scored, or what Syracuse scored. So we’ve tried to design it in a way that police executives would feel comfortable giving the data, once they understand that what comes from it is for their use and their use only to identify opportunities within where the for the possibility of making change if they feel that change is necessary. So here’s here’s kind of why this is important as it is because Marlene, I think you you mentioned, the connection and sort of lack of information that exists between the police and the community. Unfortunately, that is one of the single highest contributors to the poor relations that are existing right now in our country and If you consider that our industry has never been forthcoming, on our tactics and and our training policies and our trading procedures or our hiring practices or our testing practices, we just haven’t, because we’re the police and and, you know, this is our job. Unfortunately, that void gets filled by misinformation. And that misinformation comes from a variety of different sources, like books, or movies or television. Like I used to walk into high schools and talk to high school students and say, How long has television been around about 70 years, what’s been the most successful programming genre on on television, since its inception will also be police shows? Sure. And unfortunately, it gives an extremely inaccurate picture about what policing actually is. So, you know, this is a pro, these are programs designed to sort of lift that veil, and identify those areas within and those areas without so that both sides can kind of get to know one another. A little bit better. I’ll say this about Central Plus, the beauty of it and its strength lies in identifying factors within our communities that can contribute to reasons why the police may be called in the first place. Take Rochester, New York, for example. Statistically, Rochester, New York has a violence rating in and around the same as Chicago, per capita. And that’s a frightening thing to say, for a community that’s 210,000 people strong, but it’s true. And it’s also true that Rochester, New York is among the most poverty stricken communities in the country. And just like everywhere else in the country, where poverty and a poor educational system and joblessness exist, there are factors that come into play that result in the police having to respond, whether it’s issues with with health or mental health, whether it’s you know, incidences of drug abuse, or, you know, illegal drugs selling, because of a lot of those social constructs that, unfortunately exist. Oftentimes they intersect in a police department or by way of a police action. So if we can identify, and let me back up, if me as the chief of police can take a look at Central Plus and see that 14619 zip code, basically has a liquor store on every corner, doesn’t have a pharmacy within two miles, doesn’t have a bank within two miles, and only has one grocery store. I can begin to figure out in you know, are there factors at play here that are contributing to the fact that we have young men and women out there selling narcotics, or selling illegal cigarettes, or engaging in gang activity. That’s a way for me to get to know my community better. Other side of that equation, though, is that municipal leaders can also take that data and begin to identify areas of opportunity within their communities where they can start pouring resources. And we can work together to build strategies to address some of those areas of opportunity that we’ve we’ve identified, or work on some of those areas of opportunity that we’ve identified.

Greg Lambert  33:32

The data that you collect, how do you pull it together, and make it tell a story that the police in the community can understand? And then you and I assumed and you give some some advice on how to go forward from there? What what do you do with the data once you get it?

Marlene Gebauer  33:51

And what do they do with the data once they have it?

Ama Romaine  33:54

Your your point is well taken, right? It’s a great question because data for the sake of having it is useless. But the story that it tells us is really where the it’s really where the wind comes, right. So in central let’s start with Central, a we gather, you know, we can we get inputs that can tell and an officer can tell a chief of an agency, how it’s a how well, his agency or her agency is doing in terms of community policing, community oriented policing, along three metrics, right? We look at three key areas. But we don’t only look at you’re a gold agency, or you’re a bronze agency or you’re a silver agency, what we also try to do is meet officers where they are and frankly, meet the community where where it is right at the end of the day, community oriented policing, we only want it if it’s effective. So we also try to understand what are the correlation the correlate between community oriented policing agencies but those that don’t really well, and crime trends? So we don’t know for sure. I mean, we believe anecdotally and we will say this and all of our advisors tell us that community oriented policing makes communities safer. But when there are some who may not believe in community oriented policing, and they challenge that what we can show, what we hope our data will be able to show over time, is that there is a relationship between agencies that cities where agencies engage in community oriented policing, and crime trends. And if we can show over time that there is a decrease in crime trends in those age in those areas in those cities, then more agencies are more likely to one or more cities are more likely to want their agencies to engage in that type of policing. So that’s one of the ways that we’re using the data to tell the story that we think will drive the change that we all want, right, which is at the end of the day, thriving communities.

Wayne Harris  35:50

What she said! It wasn’t the only thing. I mean, am I just, you know, sort of illustrated perfectly. That’s exactly what this this data does. And, ideally, and I think our ultimate goal is to be able to assist when opportunity is identified, and whether that’s bringing subject matter experts into the equation, you know, on the back end of it, or whether it’s us going in there and saying, this is all of the data and all of the information that we have that can help you achieve this particular goal. That’s the end game. I think that’s that’s sort of where we’d like to be and the service that would ultimately like to provide.

Ama Romaine  36:34

And we have an example, actually of one, one agency that did the survey was one of our very first agencies to participate. And he did really well, on the in the area of Community Oriented Policing scores were really great. The one place where his score was not quite as strong was in the area of Officer wellness and well being. And this is when we first launched this was back in the fall of 2020. This was all obviously at the height of, you know, sort of the marching and I think where there was like really high anti police sentiment in the country and police officers were under a lot of pressure. And they were telling him that his you know, his team was telling him that they were feeling they were they were feeling they were operating, operating under a lot of pressure they were he felt like their stress level was really high. He knew that they were struggling. But when he saw his score, he actually said to himself, that he really felt like he was doing a disservice to his his team. And he really felt like he wanted to understand what he could do differently. So he actually went out and got resiliency training, and then came back, he got certified. And he’s actually one of the few chiefs in his area that’s certified as a resiliency trainer. And now and he went back and brought that training to his team, but also has the ability now to share this with others. And that’s just a really very specific example of how the data can help drive change, right? I mean, if you know that you have a problem and you’re open to understanding what your challenge is, and then looking for a solution, then we all benefit. And then he brought that resilience resiliency trainer to us at the initiative. And they’re now a part of our, you know, one of the the agencies that we organizations that we use and recommend to other agencies. So it comes full circle.

Greg Lambert  38:16

Interesting. I know one, one of the characteristics in the legal industry, especially lawyers, is a lack of resiliency. So I may ask you for the for that trainers name.

Ama Romaine  38:29

Absolutely. I’m forgetting the name of the organization now, but I will provide it. Is it resilient minds?

Wayne Harris  38:35

Yes. It is resilient mind

Marlene Gebauer  38:38

Ama, can you share a little more about the Uber Proof of Trip Status tool? How’s that used? And why was it created? And how were you able to partner with Uber on this tool?

Ama Romaine  38:49

So we were able to partner with Uber because Uber, fortunately, is one of our corporate sponsors. So they, I think, really appreciated the approach that we’re taking at the initiative, and we were happy to have them on board. And they created this tool for their drivers, I think acknowledging and recognizing that many of their drivers are people of color people who have a lot of stress around this issue of police interactions. And sometimes, again, during COVID, where you think about their places were under lockdown, and sometimes there was some cities where people really should only be traveling for essential purposes. If they needed to go into certain areas, they needed to be able to show some sort of credential that they were where they needed, you know, where they were supposed to be. So Uber created this Proof of Trip Status that they that’s on the, you know, on their the device of their drivers that they can easily show to an officer and have credibility essentially. So that obviously takes some of the stress off of the drivers. And they asked us because of the work that we’re doing to provide some recommendations for their drivers that could help again, decrease their level of stress during these interactions, because again, these interactions are more likely to end well when The brain science and we have, you know, we’ve done a lot of work on brain science as we’ve tried to develop our organization. And we understand that a lot of the stressors that occur at that, that the point of the police stop on the part of the civilian, and the part of the police officer actually can lead to worse outcomes. And so Wayne graciously using his expertise as an officer provided the recommendations for the drivers, which I’ll allow him to share.

Wayne Harris  40:26

So it was it was an interesting question, because it actually, quite honestly, I hadn’t thought of ever having to help the whole entity, figure out how best to deal with the police. It’s always been, you know, how do we get officers to interact, you know, professionally and positively with the people that they come into contact with. So when we sat down with Uber, and they sort of explained what they wanted to do, you know, I kind of went away for a minute and did some brainstorming. And we, you know, I should preface this by saying what we wanted was a concept that was going to be easy to remember. And you know, sort of able to be kind of packaged and packaged well. We ended up calling it the three C’s. Basically, it stands for courtesy, cooperation, and credentials. And I framed it around what a police officer is going to need when that traffic stop occurs. The courtesy, you know, if an officer stops you, even if you’re having a bad day, do your best to remain courteous to keep your tone level to be very friendly with the officer understand that the officer is out there doing the job that they have to do. The second one is cooperation, immediately notify the officer there’ll be your trip status or your delivery status. Turn the music down, if you have your music blasting in your car, turn on your car lights, because quite honestly, traffic or motor vehicle stop is one of the most frightening things to police officer ever does within their career. And the last thing is credentials.  to have your credentials available so that the officer can see that your vehicle is entirely legal all the way around that you are in fact, an Uber driver, or delivery person. And just make sure that those three things, those three elements of this interaction are there, they’re present, they’re always a part of it. And the idea is that in the best case scenario, if those three things can be met, then the interaction will remain positive. And you know, it won’t ever turn negative, you know, everyone can kind of go on their way. Hopefully, it doesn’t result in a traffic citation of any kind. But if it does, at least it can result in a positive experience other than, you know, devolving into something that turns unfortunately negative.

Ama Romaine  42:50

It’s so interesting that Wayne just said, and this is this is the beauty of having Wayne in this role, but even just having these conversations, so when he said that the traffic stop is like the most scary thing that a police officer ever experiences. I’m thinking a traffic stop, for me is the most scary thing that I experienced when I’m on the road. So if you think about those two things coming together, that’s like fear meeting fear, right? And so this is exactly why this type of understanding is just so critical for us, right? It’s understanding our shared humanity that’s gonna get us to the other side of this.

Wayne Harris  43:22

Yeah, I mean, I could tell you stories of being on officer and working midnight’s and, you know, stopping a vehicle and walking up to this vehicle, with the windows all blacked out, you don’t know who’s on the inside, I’ve actually encountered people that have been armed and have had, you know, weapons in between their seats and ready to use. It’s a frightening, frightening experience. And you figure out how to do it and do it well, and I, you know, my father used to tell him, you can catch more flies with honey than anything else, and that it speaks to the reality of this job.

Greg Lambert  43:59

Now, we had touched on the survey, in the two different versions of the survey, the one that one wanted to talk about the one that the that you asked the citizens of the community to take. And that’s the I think that’s the eight minute one as you define it. Ama, what is it that you’re trying to collect from the citizens of the community? In what is it that you do with the results that you get?

Ama Romaine  44:27

Well, the most important thing is the results are publicly available. So you can go on right now in your zip code and see if anyone in your zip code has taken the survey and you will get to see how people are feeling about their community. What are the concerns, the top three concerns, frankly, that people have in their community? Because we know every community is different. So you know, there’s no one solution really, we think, to here’s the thing if we want to advocate for community oriented policing, what that looks like in community A is going to be different than what it looks like in community B. And the only way that we’re going to know, what a community wants is to really understand what’s on the minds of people in a community. Because I might think that, you know, and there’s this, you know, there’s this whole conversation about defunding the police, right, there are some people who would say, we don’t want police officers at all. But in some communities, maybe communities where crime is high, some people would feel really strongly that they actually would like to have law enforcement present in their communities. And so the purpose of this tool is really to help give voice to individuals so that they don’t necessarily have to go on the streets and march in the middle of a pandemic. So people understand what they’re concerned about. If we give a police agency if a police agency takes a survey, and they get a gold score on Central, but when their citizens do our Central Plus survey, they say that one of the things that they feel is, is their police agency is not very effective, then it’s important for the police agency to know that right? Because even though they think they’re doing a good job, maybe to understand if their citizens feel that they’re doing a good job. Conversely, the citizens might actually agree that that’s not one of their top concerns. So why advocate for, you know, some sort of change with policing in that community, maybe the focus there is they need sidewalks, maybe what they really need is some some grocery stores, maybe they need access to banks, I mean, so what we’re really trying to do is give voice to individuals in their communities and create a way for local leaders, for police leaders, for anyone, really, for community leaders, to be able to understand what a community needs, and then let’s focus on creating and providing those needs for that community. That’s what’s going to create thriving communities at the end and, frankly, reduce the need for law enforcement to solve every single problem that we have.

Greg Lambert  46:53

So in anyone across the United States can can take the survey. Is that right?

Wayne Harris  47:00

Yes. And we’re hoping they do.

Ama Romaine  47:02

And and with no, we’re not asking for any, we’re not asking for any personally identifiable information. This is really just It’s and we’re also this is really qualitative. We’re not even asked, we’re not even trying to say that this is, scientifically the most important thing that your community needs. We’re saying how do you feel? What do you want? What are the things that concern you? And then over time, we should be able to get a picture of hopefully, every community across the country, right? We’re doing it at a zip code level.

Greg Lambert  47:32

And for those communities where you are engaged with the police, for that community? How is it that you try to inspire people in that community to fill out the survey?

Wayne Harris  47:44

Well, right now, what we’ve been doing is individually cold calling and asking police chiefs and asking government officials to allow us to demonstrate the program for them, and then have them go to their constituents and say, Hey, here’s this great tool that we think can help in so many different ways. Please, please go ahead and complete the survey. We have an opportunity coming up in May, where we’ll be traveling to Milwaukee and attending the IACP. IACP being the International Association of Chiefs of Police. They hold their tech conference in May. I had an opportunity to meet with their director of programs and sort of did the demonstration for Central Plus to him. And he loved it and recognize that it had just applications across the board, not just from police departments, but for as Ama said, you know, community leaders, whether it’s mayors, city council’s even, you know, churches, businesses, there’s just a multitude of different people in different entities that can use the data that comes from Central Plus and Central for that matters. So we are on a mission to get our, our faces and our programs in front of as many people as we possibly can. Because when we say this is how you measure against a national average, we want that information to be accurate. And you know, right now we have a number of different people that have taken the surveys in a number of different states. But the more the merrier. The more people we get into the system, the better the data is going to be.

Marlene Gebauer  49:22

Well, that is super exciting. And I wish you all the best on that endeavor at that conference. I think that’s gonna be some great exposure. So now we get to the part of the program where it’s our crystal ball question. So we ask you to, to peer into the future for us. What types of assessments? What types of data should we be gathering to tell the true story of community safety and policing?

Wayne Harris  49:56

Well, so I think you know, when we’ve talked a little bit about it right now because as we said earlier, so much of our day to day life, so much of those quality of life issues that we always like to talk about, at some point intersect with the police. So if we can collect data that reflects that, then we can begin to not only as Ama was mentioning, see whether or not those levels change based on the, the storing of a particular community or the storing of a particular police department. So as we’re peering into the future, the data that we’re collecting right now, I think is appropriate for our what I like to call our jump off point. Because this is the foundation of that information that we really have to to gather, in order to begin to make that difference. But there’s a lot of other data out there that we can also gather, for example, one of the things that we’re considering for the next iteration of central plus is gathering data on voting information. You know, do you have a vote? Do you know where your polling site is? How easy is it for you to get to vote? Do you know who your representatives are? You know, all these issues that impact us every single day, that, unfortunately, if they’re not taken care of properly, can sometimes result in the police, you know, coming into contact with you. And if you’re asking Wayne in particular, what he wants for Christmas, is that, you know, there are 18,000 police departments in the in the United State a little over 18,000 in the United States, I would love for 18,000 police departments to take Central and begin to self evaluate and look for those areas of opportunity within themselves. And for Central Plus, there’s I don’t know how many people are in the United States right now. But you know, just if we could get a few million people to actually pour, you know, into this, this program and to say, You know what, this is actually some stuff that can help. And I just just give you a very brief anecdote. One of the programs that I worked on before I retired was a violence reduction strategy for the city of Rochester and Rochester Police Department. And to gather the spectrum that we needed. We took a look at five years of violent investigations. And we brought everyone that had a hand in that investigation. All the authors, the investigators, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, we brought them on into a room and we said, Just tell us about these cases. And we weren’t trying to relitigate them. We weren’t trying to reinvestigate them, we were looking for their perspectives. And almost you could almost hear the sigh through the room going thank god, I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask me my impression of this. I’ve been waiting for somebody just to ask me how I felt about being that opposite. That has to go over to Mr. Harris’s house all the time, because Mr. Harris has a drinking problem. And he’s for easy is alone. But no one had ever done that. So here’s our opportunity to ask people how they feel. And to get people to say, Hey, you want to know what I don’t have a pharmacy in my neighborhood. And I could use one because I’m sick of walking four miles to get to one, it’s important to know.

Greg Lambert  53:20

And Ama, if if you had a Christmas wish list on on this, what would you be asking?

Ama Romaine  53:27

So I would say, you know, Wayne just touched on it, right? I think it’s really, this is really a place that gives people a voice, right? It gives every single person a voice. And if we if we have to rely on the political process, for people’s voices to be heard, or if we have to, you know, have a, you know, a referendum for people’s voices to be heard. I mean, those are really difficult ways to a understand what people need, and drive effective change. And frankly, in 2022, it really shouldn’t be that hard. This is a really easy way for people to say, here’s what matters to me, in my community, here are the things that I want. And frankly, what my crystal ball or my wish, really is that this becomes like, I don’t know, DoorDash or UberEATS. Right? I mean, just something that people that’s a part of everyday life.

Marlene Gebauer  54:20

We have the tools, right?

Ama Romaine  54:22

We have the tools, so we just need to use them. I mean, it’s it’s accessible, people could just have this at their fingertips. And really the information is not supposed to be static. We are evolving Are you know what, what concerns me today may not concern me next year, and I should be able to change how I feel next year and say that right? And I think over time, if this is a place that local leaders that people know that they can put a finger on the pulse of their communities and then really solve the problems that people are asking for asking us to solve. I think it’s going to go a long way to creating the types of communities that we all want to live in right, which is a thriving communities. So that’s my hope. That’s my wish. And then there’s one other thing that I that I didn’t share when you ask about the data telling a story, but another thing that’s available on our website, because we really believe in, in sort of testing the validity of what exists. So Consent Decrees are the tools that have been used historically, to drive change within police departments that that are viewed to be violating people’s constitutional rights. And one thing that we don’t really know is how effective consent decrees are at driving the change that we want. And one of the things that you can go onto our website today and do is take a look at you can look at by city, you know, consent decrees that have been issued, and then look at the crime trends and really understand we can start understanding where they work, where they don’t work, and then maybe ask questions about the examples of cities where they’ve done where crime has decreased drastically after implementing a consent decree. And spoiler alert, like, if you look at Newark, as a city, for example, you would notice a dramatic decrease in their crime. If you visited that city recently, it is an example of a thriving city in America. So that is a place where the consent decrees have been effective. And so the question is, what did they do? And why is that? Right? Those are the kinds of conversations that we should be having versus policing is not working. Because that’s just a state. It’s a conclusion. But it doesn’t really allow us to sort of look under the surface and really drive what we incremental change, prices change, we’re happy with one change, that actually makes a difference. Right.

Wayne Harris  56:36

And if I could just just piggyback on that I’m so glad she mentioned the consent decrees. Because the other thing it does is it provides citizens an opportunity to actually read what the consent decree says. So many people here, okay, Newark is under consent. Great. Well, that’s good. I hope they get better. But they don’t actually know the specifics of what the consent decree says. And it allows, we talked about, you know, providing opportunities, here’s an opportunity for citizens to play a part in what that consent decree is saying, grow to understand what it’s saying. And then perhaps partner with a police agency or the city municipality, to say, let’s let’s fix this, let’s let’s get it taken care of.

Greg Lambert  57:17

Well, this has been a fascinating discussion, I love the fact that you guys are gathering this information that you’re working with, with the community with the with the police, the community itself. So Ama Romain, and Wayne Harris, from The Initiative: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership. Thank you both for taking the time to talk with us this, this has been fun,

Wayne Harris  57:39

very much for having us.

Ama Romaine  57:41

Thanks for having us.

Marlene Gebauer  57:46

So Greg, Eugene Giudice, who’s been on the podcast before he actually sends out I subscribe to his his emails. And he had something today, and he just was a perfect quote for this, this podcast, you know, he’s what he wrote is an old saying goes, you will never light a fire. If you keep the flint and one pocket and the steel and another. Those two things need to be brought together. It’s the same with human beings. Unless we come together, we will never feel the warmth of compassion or feel the movement of a society tending towards greater justice, compassion, and inclusion. And I think that the initiative is doing exactly that. Basically bringing in all people, communities, police, to basically talk about what’s happening, talk about what they’re feeling what they’re experiencing, in order to move towards a better society.

Greg Lambert  58:44

Yeah, yeah. This is a fascinating way of taking community data, asking the right questions, coming back and presenting. And I think you heard it multiple times, that I think both with the community and with the police, then they’re not trying to come up with some kind of gotcha situation, but rather, let’s have an honest conversation, let’s figure out, as Ama started off saying, you know, you got to figure out where you are in order to find out where you need to go. And I think that that’s, that’s the perfect way to do it is to gather the facts. Everyone come to have that honest conversation. And the there was another thing that she said, you know, it’s like, even incremental changes is changing. And so they always say that we’ll take whatever whatever we can get. So that’s, I think, This just sounds like a great program.

Marlene Gebauer  59:42

Yeah. I mean, I think that it’s it’s critical to, you know, not only gather the appropriate data points, but you know, as you said, everybody has to feel comfortable because you’re, you’re asking both sides to be vulnerable. And in order to do that, there’s got to be a trust, there’s got to be trust that, you know, what we’re using this for, is for the greater good. You know, it’s not to cause harm to one group or the other.

Greg Lambert  1:00:12

Yeah, yeah, there was a, there was one other thing that, that Ama said after we stopped recording. And I wish I wish, again, one of those times were

Marlene Gebauer  1:00:22

good conversations after we stopped recording, right.

Greg Lambert  1:00:25

But she had mentioned, and she is the GC for a large hospitality chain. And one of the things that she mentioned was, it’s part of a lot of companies, because the the community is not just the people in the police, but they’re also businesses. And she mentioned in passing, that these companies have these ESG programs that they are doing, and it just sounds like a program like this would work well as a way to leverage the ESG programs that are going on within the business community. So I’d love to have her back just to talk about the ESG programs.

Marlene Gebauer  1:01:10

I got to wonder like, again, some of those ESG initiatives like what type of causality you know, an impact is it like, you know, if you bring in healthier food options to a community, what ramifications does that have down the road?

Greg Lambert  1:01:26

Well, thanks again to Wayne Harris and Ama Romaine from The Initiative: Advancing the Blue and Black Partnership will have a link to the survey and to some some of the other items that we talked about on the podcast.

Marlene Gebauer  1:01:42

Yeah, so thank you all for taking the time to listen to this episode of The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,

Greg Lambert  1:01:56

and I can be found at @glambert on Twitter.

Marlene Gebauer  1:01:59

Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thank you, Jerry.

Greg Lambert  1:02:11

Thanks, Jerry. Alright, Marlene will talk with you later.

Marlene Gebauer  1:02:14

Okay, Ciao for now.