On May 30, The World Affairs Council of St. Louis welcomed three interpreters and nine individuals from the Lake Chad Basin region of Africa to St. Louis. The group consisted of those who have passionately dedicated their careers to serving in local and national police departments, anti-terrorist/ national security forces, and community outreach organizations, all of whom arrived with a purpose to share their unique experiences, and to gain new insights on integrating community outreach and policing efforts.
Programs from May 31 to June 4 included:
- A Presentation from a St. Louis Neighborhood Improvement Specialist, who acts as the bridge between neighborhood concerns and municipal action.
- A Visit to St. Louis City Hall where the Mayor’s spokesperson and the liaison for the Mayor and aldermen explained the role of the Mayor’s office in informing the public of their policies, actions and reactions to events in the city.
- A Meet and greet with the St. Louis mayor.
- A Trip to County Police Headquarters in downtown Clayton. A Sergeant explained the Police Athletic League (PAL) Program and introduced two officers who shared their stories of immigration into North America from Africa, to serve in the police force.
- A County police ride-along in the 1st precinct
- A Discussion led by the head of the Community Mediation services, who explained the positive role mediation can play between government agencies and the citizens they serve.
- A Presentation from an Officer who is head of the city’s PAL, describing how the nonprofit sector functions and why it is beneficial to the community.
- A Trip to the Ferguson Police Headquarters. The Head Commissioner, Police Chief and City Manager of Ferguson explained the “Moving Ferguson Forward” Ordinance passed in response to the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 that touched off tense social unrest in the community and nationwide.
- A Meeting with the Director of the Restorative Justice School Program who shared the practices used to contribute to stronger and safer communities.
- A Meeting with a social entrepreneur who developed the Books & Badges program for police recruits and elementary school students.
Each meeting concluded with dynamic questions and dialogue. As the visitors and speakers discussed cultural differences that render police work and outreach unique to St. Louis and the Lake Chad Basin respectively, they discovered many commonalities which led to fruitful conversations about how improvements and liaisons can be forged in both areas.
This visit was made possible through the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as well as Cultural Vistas. The World Affairs Council of St. Louis annually hosts more than 150 visitors through the program, providing an important link between local experts on important global issues and countries where deeper knowledge on those issues is important.