ACTON – Chief Richard Burrows and the Acton Police Department, in partnership with the Acton-Boxborough United Way, are pleased to share that a recent workshop addressed increasing communication and trust between the Department and community.
The workshop was held on Friday, Aug. 27, and attended by Department and community members, including members of minority communities in Acton.
The idea for the workshop began in April, after an ABUW virtual meeting was "Zoom bombed" by someone. No hate crime was committed, but the incident prompted deeper discussion about how the town’s growing minority population and the Acton Police Department interact, and how to reduce perceived barriers that may prevent members of minority communities from contacting police.
“This was a valuable discussion for our department. We listened, and have left with a number of ideas about how to better connect with the community we serve,” Chief Burrows said. “We were reminded that while it is important for us to respond to calls, it’s also about visibility. It's important for our officers to proactively interact regularly with residents in our neighborhoods, and condo and apartment complexes, and not wait for that call to come.”
The workshop was facilitated by Nancy Settle-Murphy of Guided Insights. Groups discussed improving communications; what events and activities the Department may take part in to gain visibility and foster better understanding; and what venues would best achieve those goals.
“So many factors play a role in how each of us forms assumptions about our community, our neighbors, including how each of us views our local police,” ABUW Board President Jill O’Brien said. “We saw an opportunity to be a bridge-builder. Change starts at the community level. If we come with good intentions and think future-focused, we can find solutions together.”
“Acton-Boxborough United Way’s vision is to mobilize our community so that everyone feels they belong and can thrive. No one can thrive unless they belong and feel safe,” Executive Director Griet Dehandschutter said. “We all benefit when we come together to build these connections and grow in our understanding, empathy and care for one another.”