Seattle re-imagines policing

Latest in a series of posts responding to the George Floyd murder

Still keeping an eye on what’s happening elsewhere. The Breonna Taylor ruling yesterday precipitated not only protests but violence, as well as renewed calls to “defund” the police, to “divest and re-invest,” to “reimagine” how public safety is done.

Now that it looks like leadership of the police department is being re-established, perhaps we will have discussion of such matters that is visible to the public.

The Seattle Council proposed changes in August, the Mayor vetoed the legislation, now Council has overridden the veto.

We are not Seattle, of course, but Gadfly believes we are not without suitable imagination.

———-

selections from Hanna Scott, “Seattle City Council approves historic cuts to police department budget.” MyNorthwest, August 10, 2020.

Seattle City Councilmembers have officially approved legislation enacting sizable cuts to the police department’s budget.

Pushback against the proposal from the other side of the aisle has come from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, police unions and pro-police community members, who have all cited concerns over public safety should the department be forced to reduce its number of sworn officers.

Last month, seven of nine councilmembers pledged support for defunding SPD by 50% in 2020 and reinvesting that money into communities of color as demanded by King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle, which encompass dozens of community groups, non-profits, and other BIPOC-focused organizations.

The highlights of the 2020 package approved by councilmembers Monday include:

    • Eliminating up to 100 sworn officer positions across various teams via layoffs and attrition (including 32 patrol officers), beginning in November 2020
    • Capping command staff pay at $150,000 (not including Chief Best’s salary, which was reduced to $275,000).
    • Ending the Navigation Team (14 of the 100 officers mentioned above)

The package also cuts or reduces a variety of SPD’s specialized units, including the Harbor Patrol Unit, SWAT team, Public Affairs unit, and school resource officers, and cuts $800,000 of SPD’s retention and recruitment budget.

The goal from councilmembers is a re-imagining of policing, right-sizing what the council feels is an inflated police department and budget that is not necessary and instead finding alternatives to sending armed officers to respond to calls that someone else, such as a social worker, might be better equipped to handle and avoid an unnecessary risk of escalation.

Exactly what this re-tooled version of policing and public safety will look like in practice remains to be seen, and likely won’t come into full view until next year, but the council says it will be a community led effort as has been demanded by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now, the groups that will taking part in the participatory budget process with the council on the 2021 public safety budget.

The blueprint Decriminalize Seattle has provided as a path forward includes city-funded research done by BIPOC communities to provide, and among other things, “a plan on what health and safety actually means, including (but not limited to) alternatives to policing.”

“Instead of buying bullets, violence and intimidation, we are choosing — the city council is choosing — to invest in peace and restoration in a community that has been ravaged by generations of racism,” Council President Lorena Gonzales said as she explained the vision for future policing in Seattle.

Chief Best has repeatedly urged caution, explaining that she and Durkan support a re-envisioned SPD, but that these changes cannot happen overnight without risking public safety. Last week, Best also released her own vision and accountability website for making such changes.

 

selections from MyNorthwest staff, “Seattle City Council votes to override mayor’s veto of cuts to police budget.” MyNorthwest, September 23, 2020.

City council voted to override Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s recent veto of cuts to the police department’s remaining 2020 budget by a 7-2 vote, with the mayor issuing a statement after the fact indicating she might not adhere to all of the provisos laid out in the council’s proposal.

“We cannot look away from this and we can no longer accept the status quo if we truly believe that Black lives matter,” said Council President Lorena Gonzalez after expressing that she would be voting to override the mayor’s veto.

Kott: “There’s no denying this is a critical time in law enforcement”

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

selections from Christina Tatu, “Bethlehem mayor asks council to approve first female police chief.” Morning Call, September 23, 2020.

Mayor Robert Donchez has recommended Capt. Michelle Kott as Bethlehem’s new police chief.

Council will vote on the recommendation next month, though five of seven council members who could be contacted Wednesday evening said they are pleased with Donchez’s choice. If approved, Kott — who also was the department’s first female captain — will become the first woman to lead Bethlehem’s police department. The base salary for the position is $106,000.

“Capt. Kott will no doubt bring a new perspective and energy to the department,” Donchez said Wednesday during a news conference to announce his choice. “She’s a strong advocate of community policing, partnerships, and she has additional training in the areas of mental health, cultural awareness, de-escalation tactics, implicit bias training and crisis intervention.”

Kott, 38, graduated from DeSales University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She received her master’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 2010.

Last May, she was among the first group of students to earn a doctorate in criminal justice from California University of Pennsylvania.

She has been with the department for 16 years, serving in various roles including patrol officer, crime scene detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, detective lieutenant and captain. She is also a member of the department’s professional standards division and is a team leader for the city’s crisis negotiation team.

“There’s no denying this is a critical time in law enforcement, one that calls for strong leadership, coupled with empathy, compassion, respect and responsibility,” Kott said Wednesday. “I believe I am more than up to the task and I look forward to taking on the challenges and working together with the men and women of the Bethlehem Police Department and the community.”

Kott also thanked her family — wife Kristin Snyder, with whom she just celebrated 10 years of marriage, and children Noah, 6 and Allie, 2.

A hiring committee that included Cichocki, Donchez, city solicitor William Leeson, business administrator Eric Evans, and retired Upper Macungie police Chief Edgardo Colon conducted interviews last week.

Reached after the news conference, several City Council members, who will vote on Kott’s appointment at their Oct. 6 meeting, said they were pleased with the recommendation.

“I think it’s a great choice and a historic choice for the city of Bethlehem and our police department,” Councilman J. William Reynolds said.

“I think in every conversation I’ve had with her, she understands the value of trust between a community and police department, and I think she understands that a police department needs to listen to the community and be an institution people feel they can trust,” Reynolds said.

Councilwoman Paige Van Wirt said she was impressed with Kott’s answers when Kott presented a recent report on the department’s use of force to City Council.

“She was calm, insightful and her training was evident. She is someone who will help Bethlehem’s police department become the finest it can be,” Van Wirt said.

Other council members reached for comment, including Michael Colon, Grace Crampsie Smith and Council President Adam Waldron, also praised Kott.

selections from Sarah Cassi, “Meet the choice for Bethlehem’s new police chief. She would be the 1st woman to lead the department in city history.” lehighvalleylive.com, September 23, 2020.

After furor over a Facebook post led Bethlehem’s police chief to retire, the city’s new chief will make department history.

Capt. Michelle Kott, who serves in the professional standards division and leads the department’s crisis negotiation team, was nominated as chief on Wednesday. If approved, she would be the first female chief in the department’s history.

“I’m very humbled. I look forward to the challenge, and leading the men and women of this department, and hoping to inspire other girls that may be interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement,” she said.

The 38-year-old Kott has been with the department since 2004 and started as a patrol officer, before rising through the ranks of crime scene detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, and then a detective lieutenant. She was most recently promoted to captain in February 2019.

Kott noted it is a critical time for law enforcement, and that it calls “for strong leadership coupled with empathy, compassion, respect and responsibility.”

“I believe I am more than up to the task and I look forward to taking on the challenges in working together with the men and women of the Bethlehem Police Department and the community,” she said.

Kott and her wife, Kristin, who celebrated their 10-year anniversary on Wednesday, live in Macungie with their 6-year-old son, Noah, and 2-year-old daughter, Allie.

“They’ve all stood by me throughout my career and they’re my ‘why,’ for who I am and what I do,” Kott said.

Mayor chooses Michelle Kott as next Police Chief

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

press release

Mayor to Submit Captain Michelle Kott to City Council for Approval as Next Chief of Police

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that he will submit to City Council the name of Captain Michelle Kott to be the next Police Chief of the City of Bethlehem.

Captain Kott has been with the Bethlehem Police Department since 2004. During her tenure, she has served in a variety of roles: Patrol Officer , Crime Scene Detective, Patrol Sergeant, Detective Sergeant, Detective Lieutenant, Captain, Professional Standards Division and is a team leader for the City’s Crisis Negotiation Team.

Captain Kott is a graduate of Marian Catholic High School in 2000, DeSales University, Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice, 2004, St. Joseph’s University, Master of Science, Criminal Justice, 2010, and recently received her Doctorate in Criminal Justice from California University of Pennsylvania in 2019.

Donchez said that Captain Kott will bring a new energy, and a new perspective to the Department. She is a strong advocate of Community Policing, Community Partnerships, and additional training in the areas of mental health, cultural awareness, de-escalation tactics, implicit bias, and crisis intervention.

Mayor Donchez states that the Bethlehem Police Department has been viewed as a progressive department. It has been certified by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

“During these challenging times, I believe the Bethlehem Police Department must be as transparent as possible and provide as much information as possible to the public.” Said Mayor Donchez.

Since the tragedy in Minneapolis, MN, the following information has been made public:

  • Report on Citizen and Police Interaction 2015-2019
  • A Report on the Use of Force by the Bethlehem Police Department.
  • Policing in the City of Bethlehem/Operational Statistics 2019.
  • Use of Force Directive Number 3.1.1.

I am looking forward to working with Captain Kott as we continue to move the Department forward and as we continue to serve the citizens of Bethlehem.

“Do something good . . . Is labeling someone a racist doing good?”

Latest in a series of posts on the Columbus monument

Bob Davenport is PA born and raised for 25 years. Now a retired railroad (but not the man at the throttle) Engineer, a CE graduate of Lehigh U,  a Catholic attending daily mass and praying for a better world without apparent success. An optimist.

ref: “Ok, what do you think will happen with the Columbus monument removal request”

Gadfly:

From merriam-webster.com:  “First Known Use of genocide 1944, in the meaning defined above”

According to this, Columbus could not have committed Genocide because it hadn’t been “invented” yet.  We should have historians rank every well known leader on an “evil” scale and see what Columbus rates; include every culture, not only the Eurocentric ones. What we need in this country are more things to argue about causing physical changes that will cause consternation and more disruption between affinity groups and individuals.

I’m sure the Italian American community did not extol Columbus because he “showed the indigenous people who was boss.”  Enjoy the bench and the setting and ignore the monument if you must and say a prayer in atonement for the sins you think Christopher committed.

I would suggest a plaque that alludes to possible monument misrepresentations or negative Columbus perceptions with the following address on the bottom: St. Labre Indian School; Ashland, Montana; 59004. Those concerned could send a donation there to augment what little I give to the school. I think this would lead to good feelings all around. If you are perfect and must have retribution, take a sledge to it.

Thanks for the extensive listing of relevant facts/ideas/options; I did not, however, see an appropriate goal with reasoning attached.  Re: 2017 Lehigh University Commencement address: “Do something good.” Is removing a monument good? Is labeling someone a racist (defined earlier than 1944 but much later than c. 1500) doing good?  Do good, support St. Labre.

Bob

Hispanic Center: Racial Justice for Stronger Community! October 27

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Gadfly will count this as a Community Engagement Initiative event, though it’s the 3rd annual such summit, and though Councilwoman Negron referenced it (he believes) as in the works when Councilman Reynolds announced the CEI. Gadfly registers once more his impatience for visible movement in the CEI area, which was passed at City Council July 7. Gadfly hopes for a calendar of such events so that they will be open to the public, covered by the official media, and all energy devoted to generating enthusiasm in and participation of the public. We have an opportunity to do something truly momentous, he says, quoting one of his favorite followers.

register here

The Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley invites you to our Virtual Health Equity Summit on October 27, 2020 at 9:00am – 11:00am with a focus on systemic challenges faced by communities of color. This year’s event will address the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, colorism within the Hispanic Community, and systematic racism in education. The funds raised from this event will be utilized to support HCLV’s health equity work. To register, please visit: https://hclvhealthequitysummitracialjustice.eventbrite.com

Presentations:

  • The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Communities of Color, Dr. Rajika Reed
  • Understanding Colorism within the Hispanic Community, Dr. Griselda Rodriguez
  • Systemic Racism in K-12 Education, Dr. Joseph Roy & Three students from the BASD

As the center continues to focus on building a stronger foundation for the future in order to help improve the quality of lives of families (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) by empowering them to become more self-sufficient, while promoting an intercultural understanding in the Lehigh Valley; please consider contributing to assist with its efforts by making a monetary donation: https://bit.ly/2Yz2WZO

register here

Gadfly donated — how about you?

1619 v. 1776

Latest in a series of posts responding to the George Floyd murder

It has been said that the murder of George Floyd has triggered (another) national reckoning with race.

Followers will recognize that Gadfly rarely comments on national political issues, rarely mentions national political figures.

By design.

There is such polarization on the national scene that community seems impossible.

But Gadfly believes that community is possible among neighbors in the relatively small town of Bethlehem, believes that if we focus on local issues fellow residents will “lean in” and resolve differences for the benefit of all of us.

We have on our plate, in the words of Councilman Reynolds, the lofty goal of ending systemic racism and making Bethlehem an equitable city.

And thus Gadfly, as you can tell, has for several months now been filling his mind and yours with perspectives on racism.

And, as such, President Trump’s recent announcement of a 1776 Commission to foster “patriotic education” and his reasons thereof very much clamored for his attention.

The 1776 Commission is very much a response to the New York Times 1619 Project inaugurated in August 2019, a project that suggests thinking of that year — the year the first African American slaves arrived on land that would become the United States — as our founding moment. Replacing 1776.

(Take a moment to consider the importance of founding moments/points of origin to our national sense of self. The issue of the local Columbus monument fits in here. What we think of as our founding moment is quite important to our identity. Put it this way: where would you want the traditional survey of American History in high school or college to begin? What’s chapter 1?)

Gadfly, like you, has heard of the 1619 Project and knows that it is finding its way into school curricula, but, probably like you, he has never looked in to it.

Gadfly’s going to take a look at it now, first by considering the controversial — well, the whole project is controversial — Pulitzer Prize-winning introductory essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Gadfly, as always, invites you to join in reading for yourself rather than adopting someone else’s opinion.

It sounds like doing so will add to the important big picture frame to our local discussions.

Some of the New York Times material is accessed by subscription only. If you are not a subscriber and you run into that barrier, write to your Gadfly, and he will give you his log in info.

Bias training: leadership must walk the talk

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Knowing that Bethlehem, like virtually every city in the country after the murder of George Floyd, is scrutinizing the policies and practices of its police department, and knowing that Gadfly has been trying to open himself up to all information relevant to such inquiry, a follower called Gadfly’s attention to a pertinent August 10 anti-bias program by the National Law Enforcement Museum with a half-dozen experts on the subject, one of whom was Bethlehem’s own Guillermo Lopez. Over a series of posts, Gadfly will isolate short sections of the program and share them with you so that we can more knowledgeably participate, if only from a distance, in the local discussion here.

———

The question for the program panel in this short section is “How would you suggest getting this [anti-bias] training not only to the line officers but specifically to the leadership?” And Bethlehem’s Guillermo Lopez, who runs anti-bias programs for police, is the main respondent.

This question is quite pertinent at this precise moment when Bethlehem is considering applicants for the Chief position.

And Gadfly is reminded that two people over the past year told him in confidence that the past Chief did not himself take the training that his officers did.

If true, quite interesting.

  • Nationally, there’s a difference between the police chief and the line officers.
  • A lot of times you’ll see line officers taking this training and the Chief doesn’t.
  • In most cases you’ll see that most Chiefs are aligned in a different political alignment than the line officers.
  • We know how important it is for leadership’s buy-in.
  • If we don’t have buy-in from leadership, we’ve turned down jobs. It just won’t work.
  • If you don’t have leadership walking the talk, why should the rest of the body follow?
  • We actually train leadership . . . in a more intense kind of way than we do the regular officers.
  • And we actually do a slightly different version for cadets, younger officers.
  • [Younger officers often told by older officers to forget what you learned in the Academy]
  • We have to strengthen the young officers to be able to resist that.
  • I am not condemning the officers that say that. I think we don’t treat them well enough.
  • [Suggests no more than 3 years on the street at a time for officers, then taken off for a year in social service, etc.]
  • We don’t treat police human enough and expect a lot.
  • In my best thinking there should be a kind of rotation.
  • Leadership, you train them first. . . . to determine whether this [the training] is going to be legit or not.
  • If the message gets distorted from the top . . . it’s a done deal.
  • They [leadership] have to unpack their own historical biases.
  • You come through the ranks and you can’t think that all of a sudden you put stars on that that was not you.
  • There’s a self-reflective piece that has to be inserted into leadership for them to understand that you lead by example.
  • Not just officers, but the organization has to be held accountable.

“Teaching how to possibly positively affect harmful global climate changes should be done”

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Bob Davenport is PA born and raised for 25 years.  Now a retired railroad (but not the man at the throttle) Engineer, a CE graduate of Lehigh U,  a Catholic attending daily mass and praying for a better world without apparent success.  An optimist.

ref: “Pennsylvania doesn’t teach about climate change”

Gadfly:

Not accounting for “flat earthers” who think all the weather anomalies are just a string of bad luck and their view of the world is literal gospel truth, science be damned; “There’s plenty of evidence [climate change is] real, and that something must be done.” Amen to that. It’s may be possible that if people started to be taxed for the increased costs of reacting to global climate change that they might consider corrective actions. It might be that insurance for beachfront structures or those at low elevations above mean sea level will become exorbitant or unavailable thereby forcing change.

“The state is one of only four without science education standards to teach that people cause global warming.” Let me repeat “people cause global warming.” Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for some things; passenger pigeons, yes, but not global warming. Mother Nature was adept at global warming and cooling before man was thoughtless enough to have an effect on climate. Teaching how to possibly positively affect harmful global climate changes should be done.

I think you can get more bang for your buck if you can educate students to be less selfish and more caring. Unfortunately, there is not much money to be made by such attitudes, and there seem to be all too few role models for behaviors that don’t normally make for good press or entertainment. Easier to write a book, create a course, and test for fact regurgitation than to create a desire for such a course.

Bob

Locally developed curriculum on climate change is available

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Touchstone Theatre — Festival UnBound 2020 — Sustainability Forum

Gadfly will be publishing the student presentations from the Saturday, September 19 event. For instance, see Eli Zemsky, “The devastating effect of food waste and what we can do about it.” In the meantime, you can view the event at the link above.

ref: “Pennsylvania doesn’t teach about climate change”

Paul,

I read your editorial this morning with interest. I have been teaching Social Studies in the Bethlehem Area SD for 27 years and was recognized in 2012 as Outstanding Teacher of K-12 Geography by the National Council for Geographic Education. Yes, school curricula need to address this issue . . . and we are!
I wish you could have been present last night at Touchstone Theater in Bethlehem, PA. Bill George has been working with Lehigh University’s Ed Gallagher and myself to engage our young students in the Speak Out for Sustainability of Bethlehem. Five Liberty HS students in my Government class (Check out my Twitter @pageonut) as well as a student from Freedom and a student from Moravian Academy were selected to read their essays that involved their ideas, plans, and community action for making Bethlehem a more sustainable community. Bill said the link for the program will be available on touchstone.org for people to view as it was livestreamed last evening.
Dennis Scholl who is now retired from the D & L Heritage Center worked with a teacher from Saucon Valley to prepare a curriculum that is an historical gem, not only for our local students, but also any student in the US who wants to learn more about how the Northeast, specifically PA, has changed over the years. I was the curriculum consultant for this project. It has taken over a year, and we were excited to get this curriculum piloted in local schools when the pandemic hit forcing prioritizing demands on teachers.
While one might think curricula on climate change belongs only in environmental classrooms, it can be integrated into all disciplines. A blend of environmental science with the social studies opens an incredible opportunity for our young people. This is one of the reasons I have engaged my students in Government class to DO actual government. When Ed Gallagher and Bill George started this Speak Out program last year, I jumped at the chance to get the work of my students into their selection process. I teach my students that life is not about just complaining. We need to take an active role in making improvements. I was thrilled that the Sustainability Committee chose 9 of my students to speak this year. I was disappointed that 3 of my young ladies were unable to participate in last evening’s program, but other students had read their work for them and it worked out. I was inspired by the ideas of these young minds. They are fighting for a better community!
Please reach out to Dennis about this curriculum. Reaching educational institutions to let them know these curriculum materials are available is vital. Reach out to Bill regarding our event last night. Your platform could be an opportunity to educate many people in what IS happening. There are resources available to continue to educate and involve, not only our young people, but all of us for a more sustainable future.
Thank you for your time.
Lisa A. Smitreski Draper
Liberty HS Social Studies Teacher
Honors & Academic Government & Economics Teacher
AP & Regular Psychology Teacher
Psychology Club Adviser
PA Junior Academy of Science Adviser

Scott Morro’s latest young adult novel is about hidden treasure in Bethlehem!

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Bethlehem is the location of Bethlehem resident Scott Morro’s sixth novel, The Washington Pursuit (2020).

My Young Adult novels are set here in Bethlehem for very specific reasons. Though I was born and raised in Nazareth, Bethlehem is my home now. It’s where I’ve lived for the past 24 years . . . where I’ve raised my family and put down roots. My wife is a Bethlehem native, and we decided to live here once we were married. The vibe this town gives off, the fabric holding Bethlehem together, is woven into the DNA of everyone who visits or calls this place home. The downtown area is filled with history, legends, lore — what’s not to love? I’m proud of where I live. Such buildings as The Sun Inn, the Gemeinhaus, the Brethren’s House, God’s Acre Cemetery . . . you can just feel the past when you cross the thresholds of these special places. They get under your skin and grab a hold of you and don’t let go. There’s so much to see and experience here — I want to celebrate that in my books. Bethlehem doesn’t need my help promoting itself. But I want to do for Bethlehem what Ian Rankin has done for Edinburgh . . . what Dennis Lehane has done for Boston . . . make the city a living, breathing entity. Major cities like Philly, Chicago, LA, New York seem to get all of the literary love. I want to bring that feeling, that exposure here. I write about places I’m vaguely familiar with. Before writing, I have a general idea of where the story will take place, why the settings are important, and how they help breathe life into the book. After the first draft is written, I’ll take tours of places in the books to make sure what I remember is accurate. Accuracy is important to me. I want the locations on paper to reflect the actual structures in real life. Yes, I’ve made minor tweaks to locations and buildings — I needed to in order to make my plot work. But I carefully, methodically try to portray the spaces here and in every novel as accurately as possible.

In The Washington Pursuit, Freedom Middle School student Ernie seeks the “Moravian Enigma,” an elusive treasure stolen by the British, recovered by George Washington’s troops at the Battle of Brandywine, and not seen since — a treasure that consumed his mother’s thoughts, and when she failed to uncover it, she lost her purpose in living. Here Ernie and his friend Bobby ponder the last clue to the treasure’s whereabouts, a clue that leads them to the Sun Inn.

Excerpt from The Washington Pursuit (2020):

Rick finished describing the history of the area to the group, and we spread ourselves out to survey our new surroundings. Bobby and I nodded to each other, grateful for the opportunity to sit and ponder our latest bit of evidence, while the others scattered like aimless snowflakes.

Finding a bench nearby, we sat and read the clue again.

Beneath the sun in Bethlehem, 
Where Washington laid his head, 
Lie the riches of those men
Who in Brandywine now lay dead.

“Bethlehem doesn’t have a gigantic sun. It’s got a star.” Bobby said, puzzled.

“I know. I’ve been wondering about that, too. I mean, Bethlehem is the Christmas City. That star atop South Mountain can be seen for miles, and it’s constantly lit, but there’s no way Jonathan Stockwell would have known about that. He was dead and buried by the time electricity was invented, well before that star was mounted on the hill.”

“Maybe Washington and his men camped out on the hill where the star is, and the Brandywine treasure is buried there. I mean, it’s the highest point in the area, and when the sun is high in the sky, it certainly looks like it rests on top of the mountain. Maybe Stockwell’s clue has nothing to do with the Christmas star, just the area atop the mountain.” Bobby was grasping at straws, but at least he was trying.

“I thought of that, too,” I replied. “But all of the other clues had one thing in common, one central theme running through each of them.”

“Yeah. . . .” Bobby said, still not fully understanding.

“Each clue, each place, was somehow associated with the Moravians. Whether it was the church, the college, whatever. The next clue would have to be linked with the Moravians, too, dont’cha think? I know the star is definitely Moravian, but it’s modern, not historic like the others.”

Bobby nodded, the full weight of my explanation saturating his senses like a flooding river. Other members of our group sloshed by on their way to other parts of the cemetery. Rick was chatting on his cell phone, and my thoughts melted into the quiet surroundings. A few snow geese flew overhead while the soothing hum of traffic lulled me into a daydream.

I thought of Jonathan Stockwell again, and his passion for puzzles. I thought of my mother and her unending desire to solve the mysteries Jonathan Stockwell set upon the Lehigh Valley. I thought of my father and his beer cans. I thought of journals and clues, of bell towers and ancient drums.

I thought of bishops and brethren, of professors and pamphlets.

Pamphlets . . .

Beneath the sun in Bethlehem . . .

I snapped back to reality, rummaging through my backpack with a feverish purpose and intensity.

“What’s the matter, Ernie?” Bobby said, his words laced with surprise.

“Where’s the pamphlet Rick gave us when the tour started?”

“The pamphlet . . . why do we need that? We’re looking for a sun, remember?”

“I remember,” I said sarcastically. “But if you show me that pamphlet, I’ll show you the sun.”

Scott Morro has written six Young Adult novels: Last Ups (2005), The Cross Over (2006), Danni’s Gift (2008), What’s Brewing in Boston (2009), Fortunate (2018), and The Washington Pursuit (2020). Scott was born in Nazareth, lives in Bethlehem with wife Lisa and sons Connor and Ryan, and is in his 26th year as a 6th grade English teacher at DeFranco Elementary School in Bangor. The Morro family has a strong Bethlehem connection: Scott, Lisa, and Connor are all Moravian College graduates. History, humor, and the struggles of growing up lie at the heart of every Morro novel. Born in Nazareth, living in Bethlehem, Scott’s love of history comes naturally. He’s researched the Moravians, and he even contributed royalties from one of his novels to the Nazareth Moravian Church to help combat the chronic vandalism of Indian Tower, a Northampton County and Moravian Historical Society landmark. Scott makes frequent appearances at schools, book clubs, libraries, and reading conventions. The Washington Pursuit is his second novel with Creators Publishing, a classy publishing house with a perfect family, small-town feel. Stay in contact with Scott at https://scottmorro.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/scott.morro.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

The devastating effect of food waste and what we can do about it

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Eli Zemsky is a sophomore at Moravian Academy. He presented a shorter version of this essay at the “Speak out!” Sustainability Forum, part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound 2020, September 19. Eli’s interest in the environment was stirred by a cousin who was in Africa with the Peace Corps a few years ago, helping install wells and build up farms. He credits his focus on food to Amanda Little’s The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World, a book recommended by his Mom. View Eli reading the shorter version of this essay here at min. 49:58.

Food Waste in Bethlehem

Elijah Zemsky

Food waste in our country has devastating lasting effects on the environment and on American communities. Our food supply chain pumps an extreme amount of unneeded food into homes and businesses, then completely mismanages the waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 40% of the 40 million tons of food produced in America each year will be dumped into landfills. As a result, there is more food in our landfills than any other solid municipal waste. That means American homes, businesses, hospitals, and schools throw away more food than they do clothing, cans, plastic, or packaging.

Meanwhile, neighborhoods and families across the country cannot access the food they need. In the Lehigh Valley, about one in ten residents and one in three children rely on food banks and food pantries. When wheat is grown on a farm, made into bread, transported to a grocery store, and purchased all to be thrown in the trash, all it does is damage the environment. The EPA reports 20% of the water used in agriculture is completely wasted because of food loss.

Additionally, because food is thrown into piles with all the other waste in a landfill, it decomposes anaerobically. This means it doesn’t have access to oxygen, so it undergoes a different chemical reaction when decomposing. This reaction produces large amounts of methane gas. Methane deals much more immediate damage to the atmosphere than CO2; therefore, landfills pour massive amounts of potent greenhouse gases into the air largely because of food waste. The effect is amplified when garbage piles are covered. Possible solutions require more effort, time, and money than they seem they should, but it is vital for our planet and its citizens to pursue solutions to food waste.

In February of last year, the National Resource Defense Council published a report titled “Tackling Food Waste in Cities.” The report outlines what actions a city’s government and citizens should take to reduce food waste. In addition, the FDA, EPA, and USDA have recently created the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. Both the report and the federal agencies support local governments engaging with citizens and businesses. The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy tells us the primary goal should be to reduce the food surplus in the first place. Obviously, it is dangerous to aim to eliminate all sources of extra food, so it is also important to develop plans for food rescue. The city council and mayor should implement a progressive plan to engage businesses.

To begin, the local government should make a clear commitment to reducing food waste by a defined amount, by a defined date. Next, there should be changes in the foodservice areas that are regulated by the city, like schools, and hospitals. These facilities should adopt regular food waste audits and food rescue plans. A waste audit involves picking a date to measure all the waste generated by a facility. Often, a waste audit includes discovering which specific items are thrown away. After finding which foods are often thrown away, a facility orders less of that item each month. It is impossible to predict exactly how much chicken or pasta or lettuce a cafeteria will need in a month. That is why the staff will also need to create a food rescue plan, often involving donations to food banks. Finally, the city should help businesses and households do the same. The city council can promote the Save the Food and Food: Too Good to Waste materials. Schools can communicate with students and families about food waste and local efforts.

Many groups exist in the Lehigh Valley to help individuals and businesses address food waste. Not only do these serve as inspiration for potential strategies, but they could implement immediate wide-scale solutions if joined with the city. The nonprofit Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has already done significant work by organizing grants for food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens. One of the largest such organizations in our community is the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV), sponsor of the Second Harvest Food Bank and other nonprofit agencies. CACLV provides aid in the form of food, shelter, advocacy, energy assistance, and small business assistance. They have an extensive food distribution network, serving over 60,000 people each month. There is also a Food Policy Council of the Lehigh Valley, devoted to organizing the funds, partnerships, and connections required to address food waste.

The NRDC points to cost-effectiveness and opportunity for change in support for helping businesses address food waste. If a business starts ordering less food each month, it will spend less money. Furthermore, efforts to reduce food waste in businesses like restaurants will result in lower labor and disposal costs. Research by The World Resources Institute shows that 99% of businesses had a positive return on investment when changing operating practices to reduce food waste. The average ROI was 14:1. Secondly, many businesses are interested in reducing food waste but don’t know how or where to start. They are passionate about their community and environment. They’re willing to make changes and form a large step in the food distribution chain. According to the NRDC, a local government can enact widespread change by tapping into that potential.

Our current world demands these reforms now more than ever. Amidst a global pandemic, social justice crises, and the threat of global warming, people are calling for change. Businesses nationwide have been forced to close. Families facing food insecurity have been devastated. However, communities have responded with resilience, compassion, and activism. Shelters, community centers, schools, and neighbors have selflessly provided favors, programs, donations, and aid to those who need it. This is a mindset ripe for enacting change. Thus, we have a golden opportunity to develop sustainable practices that will rescue our current system of waste and neglect. Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley have the community and the leadership to make changes, and we can’t wait any longer.

 

Works Consulted

Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. 2020, http://www.caclv.org/. Accessed 2 July 2020.

“EPA, USDA and FDA are working together through their Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative.” YouTube, 30 Oct. 2019, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AJwIfytZA&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 3 July 2020.

“Food: Too Good to Waste Implementation Guide and Toolkit.” EPA.gov, Environmental Protection Agency, 7 Jan. 2020, http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-too-good-waste-implementation-guide-and-toolkit. Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

“Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council.” United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, United Way, http://www.unitedwayglv.org/see-the-impact/food-access/food-council-policy. Accessed 3 July 2020.

Mugica, Yerina, and Terra Rose. Tackling Food Waste in Cities: A Policy and Program Toolkit. Edited by Darby Hoover, National Resources Defense Council, Feb. 2019. NRDC, http://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/food-waste-cities-policy-toolkit-report.pdf. Accessed 3 July 2020.

Save the Food. National Resources and Defense Council, 2020, savethefood.com/. Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

Schroeder, Shelby. “Waste Audits: The Dirty Work of Office Sustainability.” Sera Design, Sera Architects, 25 Feb. 2016, http://www.seradesign.com/2016/02/waste-audits-the-dirty-work-of-office-sustainability/. Accessed 3 July 2020.

Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania. Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, 2020, shfblv.org/. Accessed 2 July 2020.

“Spark Grants – Food & Housing Access.” Lehigh Valley Foundation, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, http://www.lehighvalleyfoundation.org/grants/50th-anniversary-spark-grants/spark-grants-food-housing. Accessed 3 July 2020.

“Sustainable Management of Food.” EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food. Accessed 3 July 2020.

“Sustainable Management of Food Basics.” EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 19 June 2020, http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics. Accessed 3 July 2020.

Ok, what do you think will happen with the Columbus monument removal request?

Latest in a series of posts on the Columbus monument

Let’s recapitulate.

A group of at least a 120+ residents signed a letter addressed to the Mayor and City Council requesting the removal of the Christopher Columbus monument in the Rose Garden.

The monument was presented to the City in 1992 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s successful trans-Atlantic voyage by the local chapter of UNICO, an Italian American service organization.

The Mayor appointed a committee (membership unknown to Gadfly) to consider the request. It is not clear that Council is formally involved. It is also not clear to Gadfly whether the committee is “advisory” or whether it has been entrusted with the decision about how to respond to the request.

Rationale for the removal of the Columbus statue includes:

  • Columbus did not discover the Americas: he accidentally happened upon them while searching for a westward route to Asia.
  • Columbus illegally claimed possession; the Americas were already inhabited by Indigenous populations with rich and ancient cultures.
  • The monument, therefore, literally espouses misinformation to the public; it does not tell the truth, the whole truth.
  • Though some Italian Americans revere Columbus, signers of Italian descent call on these members of the Italian American community to reconsider Columbus’s status as a “hero” and join in honoring Indigenous lives.
  • Columbus is no hero; his legacy has been shaped by a self-serving Eurocentric education system that has promoted false information, the erasure of Indigenous stories, and the devaluing of Indigenous life.
  • Primary sources document Columbus’s horrific crimes against the Indigenous peoples: he is responsible for the rape of countless women and children, the torture of entire communities, forcing human beings into slavery, killing countless others, wiping out whole cultures.
  • Columbus precipitated a genocide against the Indigenous population of the Americas.
  • Columbus literally has nothing to do with the United States; a better founding moment would be Jamestown 1607.
  • Bethlehem prides itself on going through a cultural renaissance, but we cannot make genuine progress in this area if we insist upon honoring as a hero a man who committed heinous acts of violence against Indigenous people.
  • Bethlehem celebrates diversity, and a monument to Columbus does not belong in such a community.
  • Columbus does not represent the values people in our community strive to live by.
  • Bethlehem needs to lead Pennsylvania and its sister cities in correcting an unjust spotlight.

The counter-argument: rationale for the original placement of the Columbus monument as well as not making a change now includes:

  • If it weren’t for Columbus, “we” wouldn’t exist.
  • Columbus and the people who followed him deserve thanks for giving us the opportunity to voice our opinions.
  • To remove the monument would be to give in to the excesses of the present-day “cancel culture.”
  • We’re all human, no one is perfect, everybody has faults.
  • Jefferson had slaves, Washington too — where would we stop canceling?
  • What if we learn something bad about Pulaski?
  • Modern critics of Columbus dwell too much on the negative.
  • History is written by the winners.
  • Columbus was a man of his time; it is unfair to judge him by our moral standards.
  • We can’t change the past.
  • Darwin’s survival of the fittest applies to cultures too; the Arawak/Tainos were not fit cultures to survive.
  • Columbus shouldn’t be blamed for what others did after him.
  • Most city residents informally polled both then and now have no problem with the monument.
  • The monument has existed without incident for almost 30 years; it has “tenure.”
  • Even granting the monument has the power to create problems, it is located in a spot where it is unlikely to do so.
  • The monument is little known, has virtually no visibility, the petitioners make a problem where there is none.
  • The monument is limited in scope, focusing just on Columbus as navigator, as sea man, qualities for which he can be justly praised.
  • Columbus is emblematic of the millions of immigrants, and their pursuit of economic opportunity, religious freedom, and hope for a better life.
  • Columbus has become symbolic of the Italian American experience, heritage, and contributions to the United States.
  • The desire for Italian Americans to honor their culture is part of our history too and shouldn’t be erased.
  • To remove or revise the monument now would be to offend Italian Americans.

Possible committee conclusions, the range of options:

  • deny the request, allow the monument to stand.
  • issue a formal statement agreeing with the negative view of Columbus, disavowing his actions relative the Native Americans, but letting the monument stand as is.
  • add additional “educational” information about Columbus and his legacy at the monument site.
  • add a monument celebrating Indigenous people to the monument site as balance of perspective on 1492.
  • replace the monument with a new one representing the complex nature of Columbus’s legacy.
  • replace the monument with a monument to an Italian of less ambiguous heroic stature.
  • move the monument to private property.
  • remove the monument.

Gadfly reminds you that what makes this Columbus monument issue significant is the connection it has to our desire to eliminate systemic racism in our country triggered by the murder of George Floyd.

The requestors are asking for the removal of a monument to a racist.

You know Gadfly loves to lay out a situation for you from multilevel perspectives and then ask you to role play the decision-maker.

He has now laid out a dozen posts encouraging you to think about the decision before the Mayor.

Gadfly understands that the Mayor’s committee meets for the second time today. We might learn their decision. but then again Gadfly would not be surprised if the committee does not finish its work today. This is a tricky issue.

What do you see as the outcome of the resident request for removal of the Columbus statue?

Is this Columbus monument a stain on our city?

“George Floyd is everyone’s brother or cousin or uncle. Or grandson.”

Latest in a series of posts responding to the George Floyd murder

“The Community Engagement Initiative is [about] looking at the ways that
we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”
Councilman Willie Reynolds

from Steve Kreider, “Your View by former Lehigh football star: Having a Black grandson finally made me think, ‘What is it like to be a Black person in the U.S.?'” Morning Call, September 18, 2020.
(Headline in Sunday, September 20, Morning Call is “How having a Black grandson opened my eyes.”)

“Would you let your daughter marry a Black man?” It was the fall of 1985, in the Cincinnati Bengals locker room. I had just stood up to put on my shoulder pads for practice.

I was a 27-year-old slot receiver from a small school (Lehigh University) in Pennsylvania. Bobby Kemp, our strong safety, was asking the question from a distance of about 12 inches. Lots of teammates were watching.

“Um, yeah — but I would want her to know what all she’s getting into.” (Why’s he asking me this? Aren’t we friends?)

This wasn’t the first time Bobby had asked a question like this. A year earlier, just as I got up to put on my shoulder pads, there he was, 12 inches away, eyes flashing. I had been sitting at my locker, doing my usual nerdy thing and trying to get some reading done for my graduate school classes in finance.

This time the question was, “All this junk you’re always readin’ — have you ever read James Baldwin?” “Um, no. No, I haven’t.” (Why’s he asking me this? Aren’t we friends?)

So there I was, seventh year in the league, a few months from finishing a Ph.D., thinking the U.S. was headed in a good direction. Black players on the team were friendly to me. There were Black people making some progress in business and the professions.

In general, it seemed that people understood that it was bad to be racist. There was reason to be optimistic — confident even.

This is how I thought about things for a long time. And then in 2007 my college-age son fell in love with a woman who happened to be Black. I began to hear things I never heard before.

Speaking about Black friends who were engineering graduates from Princeton, holding high-paying jobs and driving BMWs and other high end cars, “Dad, you know they get stopped while driving around Princeton? In this fancy town? And they have to hold onto the steering wheel with both hands and be super courteous and sweat and hope and pray they don’t get shot. This happens all the time. It is a regular part of their life — this fear.”

And “Dad, the kids couldn’t tell you, but when you were coaching our little 10-year-old kids’ football team, when we would go to those games out in the rural counties, a lot of the Black kids were really scared. Their parents told them not to go there because there’s a lot of crazy people out there who want to kill them. They were really terrified.”

My son is now in his 30s and he and his wife have a son. My daughters live with their families in a well-to-do Philly suburb in Bucks County and have been encouraging my son and his wife to move close to them.

He asks me, “Dad, how do I tell them that my wife is afraid to live there?” “Dad, if you were a 22-year-old Black man, would you go for a jog in the neighborhood where you and mom live?”

It is worse than shameful that it took having a Black grandson to make me think, “What is it like to be a Black person in the U.S.”? To read James Baldwin. To start reading “Stamped From the Beginning” and “The Ways of White Folks,” etc. But that’s what happened.

We need to look at everyone as one of our family.

George Floyd is everyone’s brother or cousin or uncle. Or grandson.

Pennsylvania doesn’t teach about climate change

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Bethlehem is developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to address climate change by identifying policies and programs that will mitigate our contribution to climate change and help the city adapt to the effects of a changing climate, including extreme heat and flooding. The second public planning meeting for the CAP will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 7th. Mark your calendars. Gadfly will be posting details shortly.

Tip o’ the hat to the Touchstone Theatre’s “Speak out!” sustainability forum last night (part of Festival UnBound). Gadfly hopes to post here some of the student presentations from the forum in the near future.

———-

selections from Paul Muschick, “As wildfires rage, Pennsylvania and 3 other states don’t teach about climate change.” Morning Call, September 17, 2020.
(The headline for this article in the print edition Sept. 20 is “Pa. schools still don’t teach about climate change.”)

Pennsylvania is getting hotter and wetter. But in Pennsylvania schools, there’s no requirement that students learn that their actions are contributing to it by changing the climate.

The state is one of only four without science education standards to teach that people cause global warming, a problem that’s difficult to ignore as California wildfires burn out of control.

The goal is to implement the standards in the 2024-25 school year, to give schools time to develop curriculum.

The proposal still has to go through a public comment period, then needs approval from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, a five-member board appointed by the Legislature and governor.

There’s plenty of evidence [climate change is] real, and that something must be done.

A national climate assessment researched and written by 13 federal agencies in 2018 concluded: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”

Doing something to solve the problem starts with teaching people the facts. That’s why it’s important for climate change, and its causes, to be discussed in our schools.

The proposal advanced last week was drafted over the past year. Input was gathered from teachers, students, college professors, business and community leaders and others at 14 stakeholder meetings, including one in the Lehigh Valley that was held virtually in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The update is broad and covers many topics. Lessons about how people impact the environment was one of the top suggestions from those who offered input. Proposed standards include:

Kindergarten: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air and/or other living things in the local environment.

Grades 3 to 5: Describe human-caused changes that affect the immediate environment as well as other places, other people and future times.

Grades 6 to 8: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing human impact on the environment. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

Grades 9 to 12: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Climate change is a sticky subject under the Capitol dome in Harrisburg, where deniers have been invited to testify at legislative hearings. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some lawmakers tried to squash the plan.

Some Republican lawmakers say the program would cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, with some of the costs being passed on to consumers, and plants and related businesses eventually closing, resulting in job losses.

There surely would be costs. But there’s also great cost to doing nothing.

Requiring students to be taught about global warming and climate change would be another big step. Maybe some bright young minds will come up with other ways to tackle the problem that older generations have ignored for too long.

It’s Sunday, September 20, do you know where your Climate Action Plan is? Yep!

It takes a very special type of person to want to be a police officer

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.

Gadfly:

We are living in a time (Fall of 2020) where our City and our nation are experiencing an unprecedented health crises, one of the worse economic circumstances of the past 100 years, and a level of civil unrest that exceeds any in my lifetime.

Police across the country have been a target of the civil unrest with new language being used to described the situation: “defund the police” and “systemic racism” – both are generalizations, but are the flashpoints for so much civil unrest.

Some, like the authors of the report Gadfly references, are suggesting “more training” and “better screening of new police officers.” OK, more and better is always good. Reference the same about school teachers a few years ago.

The question of “what kind of person wants to become a police officer” is a question beyond my knowledge. Yes, we all want:

  • the “Officer Friendly” of our youth,
  • the kind and forgiving traffic cop who let’s us go with a warning, and
  • the social worker who comes to the door of the domestic or neighborhood disturbance call.

Let me relate a story about another characteristic of a police officer.

Around this time last year, I stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 4th street on the Southside of Bethlehem. It was around 11 pm, and I watched as the Bethlehem Police were handling a situation of 3 white kids, one a female, and I figured they were possibly students from Lehigh.

The female was the most drunk; she was literally kicking and screaming at the police. I watched her spit at one of the cops. Fortunately, the two males were relatively calm. The language and arrogant behavior of that young woman was, in my opinion, disgusting.

The police restrained the young woman, despite her amazing resistance and taunts, “do you know what my Dad is going to do to you?”

Restraint and patience were the police behaviors I observed, firsthand. I could never be that patient.

So, in addition to:

  • the boredom of being a cop – just waiting for the next call,
  • the uncertainty about what is going to happen when “they roll up to the next call,”
  • the cell phone videos in their face when they walk up to a disturbance,
  • the anger, drunkenness, fentanyl abuse they encounter,
  • the insanity of the domestic disturbance,
  • the occasional situation when they must deal with a very hurting person with a gun, sometimes pointed at their own head, and
  • the increasing situation where guns are at play with gangs and other crazies.

. . . I really wonder why anyone would do the job, but I do hear police officers say, in earnest, “to protect and serve.”

I, for one, think police are very special people, you have to deal with the worst of the worst in our society, they have a very special combination of skills and values. We’re lucky anyone signs up for the job.

Bud

Is anti-bias training effective?

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Knowing that Bethlehem, like virtually every city in the country after the murder of George Floyd, is scrutinizing the policies and practices of its police department, and knowing that Gadfly has been trying to open himself up to all information relevant to such inquiry, a follower called Gadfly’s attention to a pertinent August 10 anti-bias program by the National Law Enforcement Museum with a half-dozen experts on the subject, one of whom was Bethlehem’s own Guillermo Lopez. Over a series of posts, Gadfly will isolate short sections of the program and share them with you so that we can more knowledgeably participate, if only from a distance, in the local discussion here.

———-

Is anti-bias training effective? Now there’s a key question. We may be putting a lot of stock in it here.

Gadfly was impressed by the qualifications made in the early part of the discussion to this question. Nobody was saying that anti-bias training is a magic bullet. One-off training not effective. Training can have short-term positive effects but it can (will?) succumb to the outside forces that have formed an individual over a long period of time. Not all programs are good. Success is in the delivery. Science tells us that there are mixed results. Officers don’t understand the need. Effectiveness depends on the officers “bringing something” to the table.

  • the training needs to be more than a one-off
  • there’s short-time awareness and effectiveness but that is fragile
  • need to talk about racism, it won’t go away if we don’t
  • adult learners need to know why the training is relevant
  • people tend to get offended at the need for discussion because it sounds as if we are saying that they are racist
  • such training can be effective but it’s all in the delivery, the approach
  • the science tells us that the training gives mixed results
  • effectiveness is not just about delivery, but each officer has to be self-reflective
  • people are exhausted and tired trying to make people feel ok about this conversation
  • where we get stuck is with people offended by the conversation
  • the effectiveness of the training needs to be measured but we are reluctant to do that
  • officers don’t understand why this conversation is important and necessary
  • the officers have to understand why
  • effectiveness depends on what the officer brings to the training

The conversation took a bit brighter tone in the latter part of this section when Bethlehem’s Guillermo Lopez described an anti-bias, police/community program he runs. Lopez co-directs the Law Enforcement Partnership Program for the National Coalition Building Institute. The key insight he conveyed from his experience is that we must understand that the police are working class people. If we don’t understand that, we will never gain officer trust.

  • training works when all the parts are in place
  • must assess the group, not one-fits-all
  • department has to trust the facilitators
  • need skills about relationships and listening
  • needs assessment > trust > than can go to hard stuff
  • has worked in this training 15 years, partnering with a police officer
  • key thing he figured out: officers sound just like steel mill workers, they are working class people, must understand that if you want to gain their trust
  • not every officer will respond to training but significant number will change the culture
  • must recognize that police have a culture, and that must be appreciated
  • you must listen to their stories, give sense they can trust you
  • must separate being uncomfortable and being unsafe
  • safety training must be primary
  • but lean in to uncomfortable, where we learn the most

“Maybe the best way to improve the problem of biased policing is to improve our recruitment process”

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Knowing that Bethlehem, like virtually every city in the country after the murder of George Floyd, is scrutinizing the policies and practices of its police department, and knowing that Gadfly has been trying to open himself up to all information relevant to such inquiry, a follower called Gadfly’s attention to a pertinent August 10 anti-bias program by the National Law Enforcement Museum with a half-dozen experts on the subject, one of whom was Bethlehem’s own Guillermo Lopez. Over a series of posts, Gadfly will isolate short sections of the program and share them with you so that we can more knowledgeably participate, if only from a distance, in the local discussion here.

———–

The keynote speaker posed five basically rhetorical questions before focusing on recruitment as perhaps “the” place that attention should be paid if we are going to see improvement in bias problems within departments.

  • how rational is it to think that 4hrs. of anti-bias training will have significant impact?
  • how logical is it to think that there will be improvement if there is no accountability?
  • do incident reports require the kind of relevant information that equips supervisors with ability to assess?
  • is it reasonable to assume that without consequences there will be compliance with standards?
  • is it possible that we can train our way out of the problem of bias policing?

That last (rhetorical) question is the most challenging, for it calls into question any efficacy in training at all.

And it leads to this statement: “Maybe the best way to address the problem of biased policing is to improve our recruitment process.”

So, for instance, the keynoter questions whether the small amount of training that officers are now given and, moreover, a small amount of training without accountability and disciplinary consequences (which, it appears, she assumes as a common circumstance) is of much value. And she goes further, questioning whether even increased training (which has been mentioned by several of our Council members) is of much value either.

The keynoter pushes the focal point further back to the beginning — to recruitment and hiring. Though she doesn’t go into detail, Gadfly assumes that what she means is that we need to assess applicants and recruits for bias and attempt to weed out potential problem people at that point.

Seems like something for us to keep in mind. The only talk Gadfly remembers on recruitment and hiring at the August 11 Public Safety meeting had to do with the difficulty of doing so these days and especially the difficulty of hiring minority officers.

Italian American organization stands by its 1992 view of Columbus

Latest in a series of posts on the Columbus monument

“The discoverer of the New World was responsible for the annihilation of the peaceful Arawak Indians.”
American Heritage

Gadfly knows a number of his followers will visit the Rose Garden Farmer’s Market this morning. He invites you to seek out the Columbus monument in the northeast quadrant near 8th Avenue and think about the discussion on removing it. (Gadfly has learned that the committee appointed by the Mayor meets for the second time on Monday.) UNICO is the organization that provided the monument in 1992.

“Afterwards I sent to a house which is in the area of the river to the west, and they brought back seven head of women, small and large and three children. I did this because the men would comport themselves better in Spain having women from their land than without them.”
Christopher Columbus
(the men were slaves, the “seven head” of women were not their wives)

Student sustainability forum coming up for Touchstone’s Festival UnBound

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Support our young people caring about the future!

at Touchstone Theatre, 321 E 4th St.

(rain date: September 20, 6p)

Tickets are FREE, donations are welcome.

donations

Performance takes place OUTSIDE, behind Touchstone. Masks and social distancing are required for all attendees.


At last year’s Sustainability Forum, high schoolers from across Bethlehem came together to share projects that would create a more sustainable community for all of us. This year, in partnership with Liberty High School, our students continue to reflect on the massive changes in our world, taking those big plans— focusing on the environment, housing, energy, clean water— developing them, and sharing them with the community.

New branding campaign takes off!

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

 

image courtesy of a Gadfly follower

Gadfly:

I love this! Mr. Mayor, please kick off the new slogan by embracing diversity with a new police chief who is well-informed about systemic racism, new recruitment models and training, data-driven adjustments and open dialog, and the most up to date practices in equitable policing!

Kim Carrell-Smith

Easton Mayor Panto on Columbus: teach the history; embrace, don’t hide the past

Latest in a series of posts on the Columbus monument

“San Salvador” from the triptych “Columbian Triad” (1992)
by Kiowa artist N. Scott Momaday

Mayor Sal Panto, on the controversy over Easton’s Columbus statue:

Panto says while people have a right to petition, the statue is part of history that can’t be re-written, and there’s a lot to be learned from it. “Humanity has come a long way since the early days, when unfortunately people like Christopher Columbus and other founders of our country didn’t have the same values we have today.” “I don’t think you just throw that part of history away,” Panto said. “I think you teach the history — both sides and all sides of Christopher Columbus, but you just don’t throw it away.” While he agreed Columbus’ methods were inhumane and racist by modern standards, he will oppose efforts to bring the statue down. “Where does this lead? Should we burn down the pyramids and the Colosseum because they were built with slaves? Do we change the name of Pennsylvania because William Penn displaced countless Native Americans?” he said. Instead, Panto offered his support for adding another statue along the riverfront. Back in 2006, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania proposed building a $500,000 24-foot-tall fountain featuring a dream-catcher-like circular ring with water flowing through it. It would also feature statues of a Lenape woman instructing her grandson about his heritage. Panto said the cost made the proposal untenable but offered his support for a scaled-back version. “I think that’s the solution. Not hiding that past, but embracing it,” he said. (woven together from several Morning Call articles)

What do you think of Panto’s “solution”?

We’re thinking about all of the things tied into our national reckoning about race triggered by the murder of George Floyd.

Gadfly ever thinks of the soft words of Joyce Hinnefeld, Clerk of the Lehigh Valley Meeting (Quakers), each Sunday morning: “we worship together on land that was originally the land of the Lenape people.”

Remembrance is a form of reparation.

Representation is a form of reparation.