Clinical project underscores how ‘every interaction matters’ for Everett police officers and youth
In just one decade, Everett, Massachusetts, once a predominantly white city, has become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the commonwealth. Building communication between police officers and local youth is a priority for Chief of the Everett Police Department Steven A. Mazzie, who is white, as are 86 percent of his officers. Last fall he invited a team of HLS students from the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program to Everett for an impartial assessment.
“Our clinic trains students to think about how systems issues contribute to conflict situations,” said Clinical Professor Robert Bordone ’97, director of HNMCP. “By taking a systems approach, we ask: What’s working and what isn’t? What can we do to improve day-to-day interactions, to build trust and connections, to help people gain perspective, and to create systems that promote both peace and justice?”
For six weeks, starting last October, HLS students Sara Bellin ’17, Jenae Moxie ’16, and Carson Wheet ’16 led focus groups and one-on-one interviews with youth and police to assess how well police officers and Everett teens relate to each other and to recommend improvements. They also interviewed community group leaders.