The Delaware Community Coalition will be hosting an event this Saturday in order to foster more growth and relationship in the community.
The Nov. 5 event will be held at 32 Troy Road at 5:30 p.m. and is hosted by Delaware City Vineyard Church, Terra Nova Church and Second Baptist Church. At the event, local churches will gather together for a gospel concert, a cook out and the OSU vs. Nebraska game on the big screen. Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite side dish to share.
This event put on in part by the Delaware Community Coalition, a partnership of local organizations, offices and churches, aimed at improving the community in Delaware.
Delaware City Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski and Reverend Tracey Sumner are two leaders of the coalition, which also includes the Delaware Fire Department, City of Delaware, Andrews House, Ohio Wesleyan University, Second Ward Community Initiative, and many local churches including Second Baptist, First Presbyterian, Firth Baptist, Agape International, Terra Nova, and Delaware City Vineyard.
The coalition has two goals.
Pijanowski and Sumner said the first goal is improving relationships in the community. They said they want to invest in neighborhoods and foster relationships between police and the community.
Pijanowski said recent national events have increased tensions between police and minority communities, and that is something the coalition wants to rectify. Pijanowski said one of the challenges is that police only interact with ten percent of the community and 90 percent of those interactions are the result of calls.
“We need to build more lines of communication,” Pijanowski said.
Sumner agreed and said the key is creating relationships between the community and the police so that the community and the police can see each other on an individual level and not just see race.
“Once you know a person, it’s personal.” Pijanowski said.
The second part of creating relationships is to change perceptions, Sumner said. She added that if police and minority populations educated each other, they could better understand each others’ experiences. Sumner said if barriers were broken down, some of the disconnect, discomfort and racism would also get broken down.
“It begins by sitting down and sharing,” Sumner said. Sumner said the most important part of sharing is being honest about your prejudices and biases. “You need to be aware of who we see in the mirror and we have to own that. If we don’t identify who we are today we aren’t going to be better than yesterday.”
The second goal of the coalition is to improve the future, Pijanowski and Sumner said.
According to the coalition, the keys to achieving this goal is by making an impact on youth at an early age to encourage them to be the best they can be, and working on minority recruitment for local law enforcement positions.
Pijanowski said the police department has been reaching out to youth for years through the basketball camps, but said there will be more projects in the future for the police and the community.
“I believe the things that are going on in our nation will pass,” Sumner said. “We need to break down systemic issues… so our children and our children’s children don’t see black and white.”
Pijanowski agreed and said it will take work and be a process.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Pijanowski said. “Some people won’t be interested, but we have to move forward. We are committed.”
The coalition will meet next at the Second Ward Community Center on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.