Why the Worcester NAACP is working with the Worcester Police Department

By Pat Yancy, NAACP, Worcester

It has come to my attention that some members of the community are concerned about NAACP’s collaboration with the Worcester Police Department.  They’ve sent an email to some members of the NAACP, as well as Facebook messages.

So in an effort to answer questions for those members who have received these messages and for the rest of the membership and supporters of the Worcester NAACP, I am sharing their concerns and our goals in working with the Worcester Police and Fire Departments.

Our goal is simple:  To increase the number of minority and woman candidates for the Worcester Police and Fire departments.

Recent events nationally involving the police and men of color have brought to the surface long simmering unresolved issues right here in Worcester concerning the use of excessive force, profiling, and the breakdown of communication between the Worcester Police Department and communities of Color.

Increasing the number of minority and woman on the police force to reflect the community they serve is just one of the pieces of the puzzle that will help promote a better relationship between the police and community.

Our efforts with the police department did not start with recruiting applicants for the civil service examination. We have been working to make sure that minority officers have equal access and opportunity to promotions as they progress in their careers.

As to the statements made by Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme, [regarding] community leadership and increased violence among our youth … I know of many community programs that serve our youth. Some of these [programs] involve the Worcester Police Department.  If these programs and initiatives are not moving toward a “comprehensive community plan,” and if Chief Gemme is not aware of everything that the communities of Color are doing to address youth violence, we all need to start communicating and working together, now.

The NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, and in Worcester, we continue that fight for justice and equality right here at home.  In the work that we do, it is important for us to respect all voices and listen to all opinions, but stay true to our calling of working collaboratively to level the playing field for those who have been denied equal access to opportunity.

We will continue to work with organizations and individuals who are committed to addressing areas of inequality related to economic sustainability, education, health, public safety and criminal justice, voting rights and political representation.

Thank you for your time.