The Miami Heat basketball team and a local nonprofit are working with law enforcement to repair community trust in a new partnership.
The NBA team, along with the City of Miami Police Department and the nonprofit organization Dedication to Community (D2C), will hold a series of workshops and discussions between community members and police officers to build bridges between the two groups.
Darrell Blocker, a retired CIA operative and board member for the foster youth advocacy group Peace 4 Kids, said grassroots efforts to build bridges between the community and police officers goes a long way.
“Trust was not lost overnight. It all boils down to opening up channels of communication,” Blocker said.
The program, led by D2C founder and CEO M. Quentin Williams, will offer both individual and group sessions aimed at creating safe spaces for parties to enter a dialogue and address pressing community issues.
According to D2C’s website, the organization uses workshops like these to “improve understanding and foster relationships while pursuing healing, reconciliation and unity.”
Williams, a federal prosecutor and former FBI agent, has written a book titled How Not to Get Killed by the Police.
He told ABC News that it was the “disparity and treatment” of police toward Black people that drove him to join law enforcement.
Now, Williams said his experiences facing discrimination in law enforcement helps guide his training sessions, which many officers find helpful.
“I’m not just talking about cops and community. I’m talking about human beings. Dignity costs nothing to give,” he said.
Stamford Police Chief Tim Shaw in Connecticut praised Williams’ training sessions on implicit bias.
According to Shaw, Williams represented “the right person in the room that can relate to the officers and to his staff.” All 275 Stamford officers underwent the training.
The new partnership is designed to include community members into the discussions and training sessions.
“Not every officer is as open to this topic as others,” Shaw added.
NBA’s Miami Heat is hoping to act as a link between the two groups.
“We are utilizing our very unique position in our own city to act as a bridge between the community and the police,” said Lorrie-Ann Diaz, vice president of Business Communications and Social Responsibility for the team.
As per the team’s website, they are devoted to community work and social justice, including helping the Black community.
Previously, the team has funded specialized training for the 900 sworn Miami Police Department patrol and community officers.