DASD Making Connections attends student and law enforcement symposium

Members of the DASD Making Connections program participate in the Chester County District Attorney’s Office’s Student and Law Enforcement Symposium.

On October 27, members of the Downingtown Area School District (DASD) Making Connections program joined students from across the county for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office’s Student and Law Enforcement Symposium.

Sponsored by District Attorney Deborah Ryan, this event is part of an ongoing effort to bring teens and local law enforcement together to discuss issues facing our society. Specifically, the program hopes to address interactions between law enforcement and teens, particularly those of color.

“These activities provide opportunities for natural dialogue between officers and students,” said Making Connections co-founder and advisor, Shanette Bernard. “Through these connections, students and officers build trust, rapport, and stronger foundations for the future.”

The symposium featured an overview of the criminal justice system, a panel discussion, role-play scenarios, small group discussions and a pizza lunch.

“The [student] participants of the Law Enforcement Symposium were afforded a unique opportunity to gain a different perspective on police officers, by role-playing scenarios where law enforcement would have contact with teenagers,” Downingtown High School East teacher Lakesha Costello said. “Both parties were challenged to understand the other’s point of view with compassion and fairness. This event was a great step in bridging the gap between minorities and law enforcement in a positive manner; that brings hope to both parties.”

“It was wonderful to see students and law enforcement officers working together to create a space of inclusion and belonging,” said DASD Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Justin Brown. “For almost three years now, the Making Connections program has provided students throughout the district the ability to communicate with law enforcement and to find out what they have in common. This is a real opportunity to dispel myths and to continue to break down stereotypes that separate us within our community.”

To learn more about DASD Making Connections, please visit www.dasd.org/makingconnections.

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