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Virginia State University Hosts First Meeting of Regional Policing Leadership Taskforce

Published date: September 14, 2020

Police Chiefs, Legislators, and University Officials Collaborate on Social Justice Initiative

Virginia State University, VA- Virginia State University hosted the first meeting of Regional Policing Leadership Taskforce. The collaborative initiative is designed to bridge the growing divide between police departments and the community, especially communities of color and mental health communities, to achieve a greater level of cross-cultural understanding. The goal of the taskforce is to provide a platform to change perceptions and heal wounds in this current climate. 

The meeting, held at the VSU Gateway Dining and Events Center, began with each member sharing with the group how they can be a part of the solution. “I want this to be one of the greatest accomplishments of my career. This is an opportunity for law enforcement to be held accountable. I want to be a difference maker,” says Colonial Heights Police Chief, Jeff Faries.

The groundbreaking initiative originated from a conversation between VSU Sociology and Criminal Justice Professor, Dr. Zoe Spencer and VSU President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. The collaboration brought together local and regional police officials with the academic, service, and administrative leadership of VSU to begin collaborating around the shared goal of minimizing the risk of crisis in our area.

“I am humbled that the Police Chiefs answered the call. We came with the common goal of addressing the issues and a commitment to doing the work. The success is measured by making sure we don't have a George Floyd or a Mike Brown here,” says Dr. Zoe Spencer.

According to Lt. Colonel Dan Kelly of the Chesterfield Police Department, “if we can predict it, we can prevent it. This conversation allows us to learn from what is happening around the country. I have been in this community for 33 years. I love this community and I want us to go forward. I am here to talk about how we can move forward together.”

The meeting garnered local media coverage. Click here for coverage from WRIC-TV8, Virginia Public Media, Progress Index.

The organizers plan to hold a second conversation in October.

Task force members:

  • Chief David Bragg, Virginia State University PD
  • Chief Kenneth Miller, Petersburg PD
  • Lt. Colonel Dan Kelly from Chesterfield PD
  • Chief Jeff Faries, Colonial Heights PD
  • Chief Kamran Afzal, Hopewell PD
  • Chief Keith Early, Prince George PD
  • Sheriff Duck Adams, Dinwiddie Sheriff's Department
  • Chief Eric English (regrets but committed) Henrico County PD
  • Chief Gerald Smith, Richmond PD
  • Chief Joe Metzger, Ft. Lee Police Department
  • Senator Joe Morrissey 16th District of Virginia
  • Officer Carole Adams National Organization of Blacks in Law Enforcement (NOBLE)
  • Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, President of Virginia State University
  • Dr. Cynthia Ellison, Director VSU Counseling Center
  • Rev. Dr. Gwen Andrews, L.C.S.W, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Clinician
  • Dr. Jim Fedrick, The Department of Social Work
  • Dr. Donald Palm, Provost and VP for Academic and Student Affairs, Virginia State University
  • Dr. Cheryl Mango, VSU Department of Political Science
  • Mrs. Pat Raines, Community Activist
  • Dr. Zoe Spencer, Organizer, VSU Professor and Human Rights Activist