Procedurally Just Youth Engagement

June 16, 2022

The Procedurally Just Youth Engagement (PJYE) initiative is a six-month effort designed to provide a safe space for intentional dialogue and engagement among the youth of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD). The goal of this effort is to foster engagement, elevate lived experiences, and gather relevant information from youth to better understand their current experiences with, and perceptions toward, PPD personnel. The information obtained will help the PPD:

  • Increase procedurally just engagement with youth of Philadelphia; and
  • Continue to facilitate and grow the PPD’s Youth Advisory Commission.

Under the leadership of Chief Inspector Love-Craighead, the Community Relations Bureau worked closely with Stoneleigh Fellow and PPD Executive in Residence Dr. Nikki Smith-Kea to identify and partner with locations across the PPD’s six divisions. The locations included five Philadelphia area high schools—Jules Mastbaum, Building 21, Mathematics Civics and Science Charter School, Paul Robeson, and Dobbins Technical— and two Police Athletic League (PAL) centers—Ford PAL in South Philadelphia, and Aldine Street PAL in Northeast Philadelphia.

In sum, 124 youth, ages 11-18-years-old, participated in the program. Eighty percent of the participants identified as African American, 10% as Latino, 7% as Caucasian and 3% as other. A total of 65 PPD police officers participated in the initiative.

Key themes that emerged from the sessions included: 1) young people’s distrust of officers; 2) young people not feeling safe; and 3) the negative impact of social media. Participants came to the realization that there are diverse lived experiences shared by both officers and youth. There was an obvious shift in attitudes and behaviors among both youth and officers.

There was an explicit request that this work and level of engagement continue, and consensus that these conversations were important and necessary to achieve optimal results in the community. The PPD is currently working to identify additional funding to continue and expand this effort.