The Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) Trauma Advocacy Program has announced continued trauma informed training to increase the capacity for the Newark, N.J., police and the community to build a mutual understanding of violence response. EJUSA plans to release findings along with recommended principles for trauma informed policing that could help similar efforts nationwide.
The Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence: Police/Community Training Initiative program began in 2016 with a pilot to facilitate dialogue and develop solutions. More than 150 police officers, residents, violence interrupters, social workers and justice-involved citizens have attended sessions.
The engagement has led to understanding of the traumatic response to violence on both sides — cops and community. According to a story on EJUSA’s website:
Civilians were shocked at the limited number of supports in place for officers who witnessed violence at such a high level. They understood and worried that, when officers experience trauma, it may impact their health as well as the use-of-force decisions they might make in the field.”
In the facilitator-led forums, both police officers and civilians speak openly about the trauma they have experienced. While trauma informed training addresses individual interactions, it also discusses systems, touching on the historic links between the justice system, racial oppression and slavery.
Participants break up in teams and present ideas for a trauma-informed justice system.
I have arrested some of the same young men over and over again. Prison becomes a revolving door for them. It’s just not working. I would much prefer they get some support for their trauma early on. It just makes more sense,” one participating law enforcement officer said, according to EJUSA.
The upcoming round of Newark’s trauma informed trainings are supported by the Urban Renewal Corp, Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, Safer Newark Council and Violence Intervention & Prevention Specialists, Fierro Consulting, LLC, Newark Police Department and Newark community residents.