More than 200 leaders and members from across the criminal justice spectrum gathered in Framingham on Wednesday, June 5, for the 3rd Annual People of Color in Criminal Justice (POCCJ) Conference, co-hosted by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) and Framingham State University (FSU).
The conference was established three years ago with the goal of beginning a candid and constructive dialogue within law enforcement of issues unique to people of color in the criminal justice field, placing a specific emphasis on recruiting, retaining and maintaining inclusive and diverse workforces. This year’s conference focused on the topic of mentorship with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross giving the keynote address and Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins offering morning remarks.
“Mentorship is a critical component to developing and sustaining an inclusive and effective workforce necessary to meet the challenges we face in criminal justice,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “In their remarks Commissioner Gross and Sheriff Tompkins spoke passionately and powerfully about not only those who served as their mentors, but to the importance of developing the next generation of mentors in our organizations and communities.”
“It’s such an honor for us to partner with Sheriff Koutoujian’s Office to put on this important conference,” said Framingham State University President F. Javier Cevallos. “I’m grateful to Commissioner William Gross for taking time out of his schedule to offer his insight and expertise.”
This year’s conference featured five workshops including a presentation on the Boston Police Department’s We Belong/We Belong Too: Empowering Youth through Leadership program; a civil rights law presentation by members of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD); a presentation by David A. Lanoie of Greenfield Community College on building social justice policies, practices, and outcomes from within the criminal justice system; as well as a seminar by Marva Malone-Lyles of Connecticut Department of Correction on personal wellness for women working in criminal justice. The Boston Police Department also presented on how it uses social media in support of its community policing mission.
Participants also heard from Framingham Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer, who opened the conference by welcoming them to the city; and Dwayne A. Crawford, the executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
In addition to members of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and Framingham State University, the conference’s steering committee included representatives of the Framingham, Cambridge, Boston and Harvard University Police Departments, as well as the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.