Like much of the country, the Rochester region grapples with the state of the nation following a series of lethal events between minorities and law enforcement. The fallout from these incidents continue to inspire numerous conversations across the community. Unfortunately, it’s an all too familiar pattern. If tragedy strikes a slate of forums and summits will soon follow.
Bringing people together is important, however, the impetus does not always need to stem from a crisis or emergency. As some PR pros say, “The best crisis management plan is solid preparation.”
In the Rochester region, conversations must not ignore the existing work in play to prepare and strengthen the community’s ability to address deep-seated issues that contribute to violent altercations between citizens and law enforcement. For example, in the City of Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren established a 100 Cities Initiative to combat gun violence; her administration also took steps to evolve the police department’s relationship with key neighborhoods through work with clergy as well as a comprehensive community policing model to change how police interact with city residents.
Conversations are important, but they must move beyond “What’s wrong?” with questions such as “What’s working?” or “What needs more support?” This approach will require constant dialogue between disparate parties and must occur far before a crisis emerges. Only then can communities shift from reactive single-serving conversations into constant improvement and iterative progress for all people.