Community engagement has to be based on building *relationships*

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Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.


It’s a lot easier to say “community engagement” than to do anything that actually engages a wide spectrum of community members.

Block Watch is a program started to connect police with the community but primarily so they would get info from the community. And, as we’ve seen in other cities, it can become a cover for vigilante groups. Decades ago, most block-watch groups in Allentown became Neighborhood Associations, with some support from the city; this seems to be a much more community-centric model, since it deals with all manner of issues.

I think the city should report the home location of police and all other city employees!

If the “CEI” is a group or the city controls who participates, I think it would be a waste of time and money. Community engagement is more than a group / committee or even a process — community engagement has to be based on building *relationships*.

Rumor has it that community policing was phased out in favor of a department-wide community-oriented-policing approach; unfortunately the actual result seems to be much less — not more — community policing.

There used to be a Regional Community Policing Institute in Allentown, but they gradually became less and less effective. (Although many states still have RCPI, I don’t know of one for PA.)

I’m going to repeat that is it easy to talk community engagement. The talk is often self-serving or posturing, and I hope we don’t see any of that here.


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