“How might we work together to build a more just, healthy and equitable city?”
Twelve NOPD officers and twelve New Orleans community members participated in the one day workshop.
About Crescent City Corps
Crescent City Corps is a yearlong pilot fellowship program of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). The twelve new NOPD officers in the inaugural cohort have the opportunity to reflect on their own stories, acquaint themselves with the history of the city and deepen their understanding of structural racism. This program is part of a new leadership development and community engagement training program for new first responders that aims to raise the consciousness and leadership capacity of new police officers, firefighters, and EMS medics.
Planning the Workshop
The aim of the day long design thinking workshop was to introduce social justice informed design approaches grounded in discussions around equity. These skills would help to build the toolkit of the officers as they engage with the people of New Orleans. These approaches can support NOPD’s work in true service of the citizens they are sworn to protect, while also building the relationships needed to transform and reimagine the systems that can harm the very citizens that they should serve.
To achieve this participatory and emancipatory aim, the Taylor Center proposed that the workshop should include members of the New Orleans community. To create an environment where the officers and the community members could form deep empathetic bonds and co-create potential solutions to the issues that will be the focus of the design thinking workshop, we used the following approaches:
- ensured that the ratio between the police and community participants was 1:1;
- gave space to the community participants to talk about their feelings about policing and to the police offers to share their own fears and concerns.
The activities focused on:
- participants building empathy for each other
- empathetic listening to each other’s stories
- co-design of solutions to the concerns identified by community members.
The workshop used creative participation methods, including dance, visual arts, and theater activities:
- Movement-based activities were part of the ice-breaking and warm-up sessions.
- Visual arts-based skills were used to create the prototypes for solutions.
- Finally, the police officers and community members created skits to demonstrate their solutions to others.
The specific workshop was an introductory session, and the police officers are in a year-long training and are expected to use equity centered design thinking in their capstone project. The project is transferable to other places as a method of building community and changing perspectives of both the police and the public.