A three-session program joining the Cleveland Police Department and the local community to promote mutual understanding, improve communications and support community policing efforts.
In its second session of a partnership with the Cleveland Police Department and the community, Reflection Point brought members of the police department the Cleveland community together to read and discuss Man Booker Prize winner Chinua Achebe’s story “Dead Men’s Path.” Published in 1953, the story follows Michael Obi, an eager young headmaster who is tasked with reforming a school in a Nigerian village. After a village elder pleads with Obito re-open an ancestral path through campus that Obi has closed, the villagers retaliate before Obi’s supervisor visits the school for evaluation.
In a 90-minute session centered on Achebe’s short story, participants engaged in a lively and wide-ranging
discussion around diverse ideas, including:
-The cultural tension between young and old and how to bridge the gap
-The human tendency to single-mindedly pursue a vision without considering others
-The misguided inclination to equate proximity with inclusion
-The role of compromise both in preserving tradition and progressing into the future
-The power of ego in our decision-making
-The importance of listening as an antidote to inflexibility
Program Outcomes and Participant Reflections
In one-on-one interviews, participants told us that Reflection Point:
Created a valuable opportunity to respectfully explore and share diverse viewpoints.
“This type of forum creates an open and relaxed setting that allows members of the community and law enforcement to discuss current issues without judgment. It is my belief that openly communicating is essential to conflict resolution.”
“It was an opportunity to leave behind something of yourself and take something from others.”
“The story allowed discussion of sensitive issues that other formats would not foster or would devolve into contention.”
Promoted mutual understanding.
“These sessions provided the group the opportunity to discuss the challenges that exist between the community and the police without specifically isolating one group or the other.”
“The experience was thoughtful and humbling. I think if everyone participated in reading stories and reflective, thoughtful discussions, many issues could be resolved.”
“I was surprised by how the discussion was so open, even among strangers, and how all people can come to similar realizations about themselves in different ways—and how much I learned from it.”
Presented an important learning opportunity.
“I learned so many new ways of thinking about people’s experiences and perspectives—the importance of listening, understanding, compromise—and realizing that we’re all humans with good intentions.”
“After further thinking after the session, I came to the conclusion that in leadership, everything is not always black and white. Often we have to humble ourselves to make a difference with change.”
“I wish all police departments and communities were having these discussions. . . there is a lot of fear and mistrust from the community, and it seems that the police sometimes operate under the emotion of fear as well. If bridges and trust were built, then we could collectively work together to meet our shared goal— living in a safe community.”
“We all have something to learn from someone else. Whether we agree or disagree, at least we listen and are being heard.”