Building Community Trust in Police and Schools

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Columns, Kids & Family

Building Community Trust in Police and Schools

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D.

Last Friday, September 28, the Danbury community came together at the Party on the Patio, sponsored under the umbrella of DanburyWorks, at the Danbury Police Department. Attended by over 150 families, diverse groups came together to celebrate their families, and talk to police officers and other community groups. The driving impetus for the event came from the three pillars of the DanburyWorks project; building trust in the community, adding more services to build residents’ English language skills and lastly, increasing the number of family childcare slots in the community so that families have quality child care while they work.

Building trust and improving relationships among Danbury residents is paramount to a thriving community. Increasing trust between schools and police by understanding the issues that contribute to those relationships was at the root of many discussions throughout the evening. These frank discussions between our officials and residents began to break down the misconceptions that contribute to mutual distrust and misunderstanding, preventing police, schools and the community from working together. The Party on the Patio gave all parties the chance to talk in a supportive and positive environment.

By defining trust as an individual or group’s willingness to be vulnerable to another party based on the confidence that each group instills in one another is based on five main facets: how each group watches out for the other group’s interests and acts to protect them; how one group depends on another group and their follow through; competency in their actions to perform tasks required by their position, such as educating all children based on the student’s assets; honesty about how persons and institutions demonstrate integrity, situations are dealt with fairly and truth is spoken by all and lastly, openness to welcoming communication between groups and the sharing of information that affects a community. These facets are what a strong community is built on that serves its residents in a respectful way and builds on everyone’s assets. It truly takes the whole village to raise a strong community.

The Party on the Patio demonstrated open communication among families and community providers. It also offered information for families about agencies that provide support for families, from Danbury Public Schools, which educate most of Danbury’s children, and the array of programs that can support families in their endeavors to improve their language, develop healthy environments for their children and trust those who will be educating and interacting with their children. Each discussion further built relationships of respect, trust and confidence in the community. Another party is planned for the early Spring.

“On Friday, September 28th, the Party on the Patio event hosted by Chief Ridenhour of the Danbury Police Department and DanburyWorks was another significant step in this direction. Led by Dr. Anne Mead and the Office of Family, School & Community Partnerships, Danbury Public Schools has committed to establishing and developing sustainable and quality partnerships with our Danbury families,” said Assistant Superintendent of School & District Development for Danbury Public Schools Kevin L. Walston.

Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or

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October 10, 2018

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