MARCH 15, 2017
BY: ED BOWERS, PH.D, NMRC RESEARCH BOARD MEMBER, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
Editor's Note: Several members of the NMRC Research Board participated in the 2017 National Mentoring Summit this past February, leading a research track that featured OJJDP-funded research and totaled 13 workshops across the multi-day event. We asked several Research Board members to share their key insights from the event based on a workshop they lead, an innovation they learned about, or a conversation they had with an attendee that made them think about the mentoring field in a new light. We will run several of these stories over the months of March and April in the NMRC blog to bring the Summit to life for those who could not attend.
A cross-cutting theme of the 2017 National Mentoring Summit was the role of law enforcement in the mentoring movement. Several workshop sessions provided exemplary programs and innovative ideas for engaging law enforcement in mentoring, and the closing plenary session focused on “Strengthening Community and Police Relations through Mentoring.” I think this emphasis is quite appropriate as law enforcement-based mentoring programs find themselves at a unique nexus in the fields of mentoring, career development, and community development, particularly in communities of color. Police are very aware of the needs of youth in their communities. They also recognize that they “cannot arrest their way out of the problem,” but need to take a different approach to build relationships with youth beyond legal encounters. Therefore, police-as-mentor programs are timely and well-positioned to benefit youth and communities in several ways.