The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building, in partnership with the Charleston, S.C.- based Illumination Project, launched the Affinity Project—a nationwide program designed to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Gathering in Washington, DC, on June 22-23, 2018, Museum staff and facilitators from the Illumination Project joined law enforcement officers, community leaders, and citizens from Prince George's County, MD, to participate in the two-day workshop of this pilot program. The launch of the Affinity Project marks the first time a national museum has facilitated a program of this type.
"I'm thrilled the Museum hosted the Prince George's County, Maryland community for the Affinity Project pilot program to help enhance some very innovative programs that are already in place with the police department and the citizens there," said National Law Enforcement Museum Executive Director David Brant.
The project helps participants create understanding, gain personal insights, and target actions and opportunities in their community. "A key component of the National Law Enforcement Museum's mission is to help make the relationship between citizens and law enforcement stronger," Brant shared.
Prince George's County (MD) Police Chief Hank Stawinski, expressing pride in the strong relationships the police department has with its citizens, remarked "Our participation in the launch of the national Affinity Project is another exciting avenue by which we can continue to build on our existing relationships, forge new friendships and critical partnerships."
This program launch included two days of thoughtful dialogue, sharing of personal reflections and opinions, and role-playing exercises. Outcomes included analyzing behavior and perspectives, and understanding how they affect relations between law enforcement and community members. The session included participants taking on "back home" planning sessions at the conclusion of the workshops to bring the experience and insights to a much wider range of citizens within each community.
"Trust is important. When Chief Stawinski invited me to participate in this workshop, I trusted him because of his vision for Prince George's County, and his desire to make it a better place," shared participant Tyreese R. McAllister. "His vision is shared with my desire to live in a better place, so I came. After the last two days, I'm totally on board to committing my time to this project."
Spring-boarding on this launch success and in partnership with the Illumination Project, the new National Law Enforcement Museum offers the Affinity Project workshops to communities nationwide who are interested in bringing together law enforcement, citizens and community leaders to expand and enrich relationships, which ultimately lead to safer communities.
The Illumination Project began in response to the brutal and senseless murders of nine parishioners inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. The Illumination Project held more than 30 listening sessions with law enforcement and community stakeholders to come up with a list of actionable items. To date, the Illumination Project has implemented more than 80 of those items as a result of ongoing dialogue between the Charleston (SC) Police Department, citizens and community leaders.
"The Affinity Project has allowed us to undergird relationships. The affinity between the National Law Enforcement Museum and the Illumination Project to come together in partnership has allowed us to share with participants a framework for sustainable and strengthened relationships between citizens and police," said Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton of the Illumination Project.
To learn more about the Affinity Project, visit https://lawenforcementmuseum.org/AffinityProjectLaunch.