From D.C. to San Diego: Reflections on My First Semester at the Kroc IPJ
begin quoteThe last three months here at the Kroc IPJ have been informative and profoundly educational.
The following post was written by Tatiana Lloyd-Dotta, an intern at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice's Building Trust Partnership.
I come from a family of San Diego peace officers — both of my parents and many of our extended relatives and friends work in law enforcement. This familial connection coupled with my passion for mental health has shaped my career aspirations of becoming a law enforcement clinician.
After graduating in 2018 from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work at a nonprofit that focuses on law enforcement research. I worked specifically on use of force and mental health related projects. My work in D.C. gave me an even deeper understanding of the law enforcement culture and its practices. Specifically, I learned about some of the differences in policing across the country. Before moving to D.C. to work at this organization, my knowledge of law enforcement was limited to San Diego because all of my family works here. After my work in D.C. I came to the realization, however, that I needed exposure to the community side of the conversation to develop a holistic understanding of the policing profession. So, just in time to skip the icy East Coast winter, I moved back to San Diego to work as an intern at the Kroc IPJ with the Building Trust Partnership.
Working at the Building Trust Partnership has given me the opportunity to learn about law enforcement and community relations from a new angle — that of the community. Also, I have had the opportunity to get involved in community work around San Diego which has been an invaluable, eye-opening experience for me, personally and professionally.
In my first semester at the Kroc IPJ I have had the pleasure of taking part in several events and meetings. Here are some salient examples:
California Violence Prevention Network Conference
One of the first events I attended with the Building Trust team was the California Violence Prevention Network (CalVPN) conference in Long Beach. Sitting in the lovely 405 morning traffic during the commute to the conference was an excellent opportunity to get to know the Building Trust partners I was carpooling with, and to learn more about their work in the community. In addition to getting to know my co-workers, CalVPN gave me a comprehensive look into the world of violence prevention work around the state. Speakers, who ranged from law enforcement partners to community religious leaders, shared their successes and challenges working in violence prevention in California. It was interesting to hear all of the stakeholders speak about the work they do in this space and the unique needs in different cities state-wide.
The most impactful part of the CalVPN conference, however, was hearing the anecdotes shared by violence survivors. Throughout the meeting, violence survivors and activists shared firsthand accounts of their experiences working in violence prevention. It was incredibly humbling to hear these stories and an inspiring reminder of the importance of this work. Going forward I will take what I learned from this meeting, and others like it, and apply it to my future clinical work with law enforcement. This deepened understanding of the trauma experienced by the community will inform my work from the officer's perspective.
Community Mentor Summit
This year marked the second annual San Diego Community Mentor Summit. The Mentor Summit was a collaborative space where mentors from all over the county came together to present, network, and share their resources with the community. In addition to mentors from the community, there were also presentations by law enforcement and local officials like San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan.
In Golden Hall, where the meeting was held, guest seating was surrounded by resource tables filled by local organizations offering mentorship services. Working the Building Trust resource table was an excellent opportunity to meet the thought leaders and active participants in this space while networking for the program. It was truly inspiring to meet local leaders and learn about the important work they are doing in the community.
Community Insight Into the San Diego Police Department
The Kroc IPJ hosted the Community Insight Into the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) on October 12. This meeting was led by the San Diego Police Department, the National Latino Police Officers Association, the San Diego Black Police Officers Association and the San Diego Pan Pacific Law Enforcement Association. Community members were invited to come and participate in police simulators and training explanations. Participating in the training exercises and simulators gave the community members a unique window into the world of law enforcement and a more intimate understanding of the reasoning behind their actions.
At the end of the meeting, we all gathered for lunch and a discussion facilitated by Kroc IPJ Program Officer Daniel Orth, who leads the Building Trust Partnership. It was inspiring to hear the community members and officers share about the day’s events and what they learned from interacting with each other all throughout. At the end of the discussion, community members shared their thoughts on how to continue the conversation and transparency.
The last three months here at the Kroc IPJ have been informative and profoundly educational. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned about the complexities of law enforcement and public relationships through the lens of community members, and I look forward to furthering my work with Building Trust next semester.