Anti-social behavior focus group to hold town hall in Trenton (LA PARKER COLUMN) – Trentonian

A municipal group that formed to investigate the root causes of antisocial behavior problems is continuing that effort with a town hall meeting.

The Antisocial Behavior in the Trenton Community and Schools Discussion Group is expanding the discussion and standing ready to listen with an in-person event on Saturday, July 9 at noon inside James Kerney Hall on the downtown campus from Mercer County Community College (102 N. Broad Street).

The group was launched in February amid reports of altercations inside Trenton Central High School and other classrooms across the city.

“We wanted to take a look at the behaviors displayed, including disrespect for both property and people. The hope was to get a better understanding of what was going on,” explained Joyce Kersey, organizer and co-facilitator with Pastor Ethan Evans of Grace Community Church.

Other active members include James White, former MCCC English teacher and MCCC radio show host for “All In The Details”; Alexander Bethea, former vice-principal of Trenton Public Schools and former member of the city council; Coreen Grooms, Administrator, College & Career Prep Program at MCCC; Mike Goodman, former PTA president of Trenton Central High School, Chester Jones, founder of Trenton Makes Athletic Center in Trenton; Zhakier Seville, Parent Liaison Officer, Restorative Justice Program, Trenton School District; and Beverly Smith, PJ Hill School, Trenton School District School Trustee.

Monthly meetings are held in the school district with the active participation of Superintendent James Earle.

“We certainly don’t want to give the impression that we have all the answers. However, we believe a better understanding will lead to solutions,” Kersey said.

Kersey noted that the June attack on a student outside Trenton Ninth Grade Academy had accelerated concerns and actions. Captured on video and posted on numerous websites, the beating drew criticism across the city.

Kersey said the discussion group thought it would be an appropriate time to open up its forum to a wider audience of community players.

The focus group has formed a collaboration with the MCCC’s Nita Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center, which provides federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for children, by particularly to students who attend very poor and low-income groups. high-performing schools, to meet national and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading, math, and science.

The focus group accepted an invitation to partner with the MCCC, “knowing that this is a wonderful opportunity to open the lines of communication between schools and the police establishment at all three levels of government. at the local, county and state levels to open lines of communication,” Kersey said.

“We have set up a program of “top brass speakers” eager to share how the community can work in collaboration with them. Our goal is to reduce the level of violent and risky behavior in our community and schools.

Dr. Joy Barnes, a community education advocate, will teach the attendee community how to have restorative conversations to build trust with law enforcement while mM. Stanley Matthews, media personality and CEO of Stan Matthews Network, will act as moderator.

In May, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora authorized a public safety advisory committee known as the Change Citizens Health and Neighborhood Growth Engagement Committee, empowering eleven prominent community members to formalize the engagement process between municipal services and community stakeholders and residents of Trenton.

The committee focuses on policies and procedures, leadership skills and recruitment, use of force, community relations and partnerships. The committee will release a Public Safety Advisory Report every six months so that city government, the Mercer County Attorney’s Office and Trenton Public Schools can receive community input to inform decisions.

Kersey noted that the panel will investigate the root causes of civil and domestic unrest in local homes and schools passed down from generation to generation, so that we can educate and eradicate this behavior in our communities.

“Our goal is to bring down temperatures and reduce stress in our community and to teach our children to respect our schools and the community. We are the boots on the ground, collaborating with other community programs and extending these resources to public schools. The focus group looks forward to receiving the semi-annual report from the Public Safety Advisory Committee so that we can provide feedback.

Attendees include Mayor Gusciora, Trenton Earle Public Schools Superintendent, Mercer County District Attorney Angelo Onofri, Trenton Police Lt. Lisette Rios and Weldon Powell, Chief of Detectives for the State Attorney General’s Office. .

The event includes an open-mic Q&A session for community member feedback and an exchange of ideas.

Going forward on July 26, the focus group meeting (noon) will feature a Certified Health and Wellness Coach who will speak about negative childhood experiences, what trauma looks like and how it affects Black youth .

This meeting is open to senior school staff at the invitation of Superintendent Earle.

LA Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Find him on Twitter @LAParker6 or email him at [email protected]

Jennifer C. Burleigh