Metro Center Graduate Student Receives "Making a Difference" Award

On April 27th, graduate student William T. Jackson received the "Making a Difference Award" during The Justice Project’s Operation: Breaking Barriers community wide event from the Urban League of Broward County for being the founder and visionary of The Justice Project.

In light of the growing concerns over the lack of positive relations and trust between law enforcement and communities of color and the negative perception youth have about law enforcement officers, on July 19 2015 The Justice Project Task force was founded.

The purpose of the task force is to build positive relationships between the community and law enforcement after decades of neglect, distrust, lack of communication and transparency. In order to achieve this objective the task force took a balanced and proactive approach. Therefore moving forward, The Justice Project became the convening committee on ways to strengthen positive relations and trust between law enforcement and the community from a grassroots perspective with the hope of changing the perception, attitudes and behavior between law enforcement and communities of color which will allow clear communication and progressive interaction in strengthening positive relations between the two.

A key issue that was identified by the task force was that many patrol officers lack the knowledge they need to differentiate problematic adolescent behavior from typical adolescent behavior and the practical skills to de-escalate situations involving agitated or defiant youth. The task force furthered concluded that patrol officers should be taught to interact more effectively with all young people, regardless of their race or background, rather than simply focusing on diversity training. It was decided by the committee that it should take a seven-prong strategic approach in providing opportunities for law enforcement and the community to have positive engagement through: juvenile diversion and law enforcement engagement; community and law enforcement restorative justice peace circle trainings; restorative justice circles with local faith based organizations; Women’s Tea Social: Sip & Share for mothers of the community and law enforcement to have honest dialogue; advocating for Racial Equity Workshops within the county by the Dismantling Racism Institute; and the implementation of community wide events focusing on restorative justice practices.

Current partners of The Justice Project are:

Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Lighthouse Church, Children’s Services Council, PACE Center for Girls, U.S. Department of Justice, Henderson Behavioral Health, Memorial Healthcare System, State Attorney’s Office Circuit 17, Broward County Justice Services, Pembroke Pines Police Department, Nova Southeastern University Law School, Miramar Police Department, Hallandale Beach Police Department, Wilton Manors Police Department and Lauderhill Police Department

In cooperation with Office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz & Office of Congressman Alcee L. Hastings