Professor Daphne Watkins is a co-chair of a new task force, Advancing Public Safety at the University of Michigan. President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins appointed a 20-member task force that will examine what’s working and what needs to be improved with the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security. The task force is among several anti-racism initiatives that U-M officials announced last fall after the deaths of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police sparked national conversations around structural racism and policing.
After an extensive selection process, the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission selected three groups from Ayesha Ghazi Edwin’s Introduction to Community Organization, Management and Policy/Evaluation Practice classes to present their projects at the commission’s December meeting. The classes spent the semester investigating their equity issues in Ann Arbor, interviewing stakeholders and community members and making a recommendation. The groups that presented were:
The commission works to protect the human and civil rights of the people of Ann Arbor. Its nine members are Ann Arbor residents appointed by the mayor and city council. In addition, Ann Arbor City Council members Elizabeth Nelson and Travis Radina were also present, as was Kathy Wyatt, assistant to the sheriff of Washtenaw County.
The commission members requested that students' projects be shared with the rest of council and other city commissions. All of the groups have been invited to participate in ongoing subcommittee meetings. The projects are stored in an "issue bank" that can be accessed by city council and city commission members.
Clinical Assistant Professor Daicia Price shared her personal and professional experiences with law enforcement agencies in the University Record. Price is currently partnering with Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to provide weeklong crisis intervention training for law enforcement agencies.
“Five times, myself and my family have been incarcerated for reasons we should not have been, but I still don’t place that on an individual officer. I think about where the gaps were in those different pieces, and helping them understand ways they can do policing in a trauma-informed way,” said Price.
ENGAGE Program Manager and Lecturer Ayesha Ghazi-Edwin is one of the 100 Detroit activists featured in "i.Detroit," a mixed media project by British artist Marcus Lyon. She was selected after a 6-month nomination process as an activist who is making a significant difference in Detroit. The project includes a book of portraits, a smartphone app and a 7-inch vinyl record; it also maps the DNA of its subjects to create what Lyon calls a “human atlas” of the city.
Clinical Assistant Professor Justin Hodge, MSW ‘13, won the Democratic primary for Washtenaw County Commissioner, 5th District; he’ll advance to face the Republican candidate in the November election.
“I have lots of challenges around my experience with law enforcement,” says Clinical Assistant Professor Daicia Price. “I have been incarcerated myself, and my son has been incarcerated for crimes he did not commit. With all that is going on now, I was trying to figure out how to make a difference.” Price decided to become trained in connecting law enforcement and mental health.
With the challenges that communities of color, in particular, have faced regarding policing and use of force, there have in fact been several calls to increase mental health training of law enforcement. Price has partnered with Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network to provide Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for interested law enforcement agencies. Just this week as a CIT trainer, she has trained officers from Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Wayne County Jail, Detroit Police Department, Canton Police Department and Northville Police Department in ways to intervene using trauma-informed policing.
“We use role plays and scenarios to teach police officers different ways of engaging with people,” says Price. “We connect them with other social service providers and clinicians — connections they never had before. We listen to their challenges. For example, police are frustrated when people ask them to address situations for which they are unprepared, such as mental health. To hear their desire to help but not knowing what to do is powerful for me. The general public has no idea there are officers trained in critical interventions and to connect with social services to access care. This is so critical right now.”
Between the pandemic and the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal death, social workers have been called to action. We checked in with a number of students, alumni and community members to hear how they are putting their training into action these last several months. Read the stories of social work in action.
During times of uncertainty and crisis, people come together to support one another. COVID-19 is a new test of our collective strength. The Community Engagement team and the Office of Field Education have created a webpage that includes a list of volunteer opportunities to support community members and organizations as well as additional resources.
"The partnership, collegiality and collaboration between the Community Engagement Team, the Office of Field Education, and our students is an extraordinary example of teamwork at its best in this time of crisis. Collectively, we have developed and identified numerous opportunities for our students to be able to support our communities and those in need as we all confront the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes me proud to be a social worker," said Assistant Dean of Field Education Dan Fischer.
"Coming together like this provides a teachable moment. When there is a difficult or emergency situation, we can work together to share resources and come up with answers. No one person has to figure everything out on their own. The COVID-19 virus has brought lots of uncertainty, but the School of Social Work community can do its part to uncover and respond to needs as they arise," said Professor and Director of Community Engagement Trina Shanks.
Associate Professor Terri Friedline has been selected for the U-M 2020 cohort of the Public Engagement Fellowship. Mentor fellows are faculty with more extensive experience in public engagement and will work closely with Fellows to provide guidance, connections and mentorship based on their own expertise and networks. Although planning for the Public Engagement Fellowship started before COVID-19, the current situation highlights how important programs like these are in preparing scholars for engagement - both in moments of crisis and over the long-term.
Associate Professor Terri Friedline discusses financial system reform and consumer protections to ensure that people and communities have access to safe and affordable financial products and services during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
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