Dear NSCC Community,

Please note this Weekly Update comes with a content warning, as some may find the information described (and links to specific reporting) as sensitive in nature, specifically regarding recent mass shootings and acts of police brutality.

The start of 2023 has featured a drumbeat of traumatic events, including the murder of Tyre Nichols and multiple mass shootings, that highlight not only the current elevated polarization and anger levels of our society, but also the inequity, racism, untreated mental health, and other systemic problems that feed these attitudes and actions. Although it turned out to not be credible—thank goodness—we had a bomb threat here at NSCC back in early January. This update provides information on support resources available in this difficult time and concrete actions the college has taken and planned to better assure our campuses are safe places from all the dangers and threats that characterize our society.

If you feel shaken by these events, you are not alone. As the video released last week showed, the brutality and subsequent neglect exhibited by police officers against Tyre Nichols is sickening. We must acknowledge that his murder is just the latest in a long trail of killings of Black Americans by police, and it is the systemic nature of the behavior that is so distressing. It is also crucial to recognize that our Black students and colleagues at NSCC are more likely to feel traumatized by both the Nichols murder and the history of brutality they have endured. Black History Month began yesterday and the evidence of long-standing racist terror—slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, and unequal treatment by our justice system—is overwhelming and a critical part of U.S. history and our present. It is also important to acknowledge the deep contributions of Black people to the United States even amidst this mistreatment. It is profoundly wrong that we have not treated Black lives as having value: Black Lives Matter.

Racism is at the heart of many (although not all) of the hate crimes and mass shootings that fill our news in the 21st Century. The loss of so many Asian American lives in the recent mass killings in California and other hate crimes in recent years is abhorrent and again is only the latest example of a history of mistreatment of Asians in the United States. Violence against Jewish Americans, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups in our nation is unequivocally wrong, and we condemn it.

To feel shaken by these events is completely natural, and this is especially true for the Black Americans and others targeted in what seems like an endless cycle of brutality. We encourage those experiencing distress to take the time they need to address their pain and also to take advantage of the resources we offer at the college including the Mass4You EAP confidential services that employees and their family members can confidentially access 24/7, at no cost—AllOne Health, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be reached via the online portal or call 800-451-1834. Students can get assistance from the Student Support Program (SSP). Any member of the community is invited to attend Listening Sessions hosted by the NSCC NCBI team, which will be hosted this Friday, February 3rd at 12:30 PM. If interested, for more information, and to help in the session’s planning, please RSVP here.

It is crucial to offer this comfort, these acknowledgments, and also to recognize that only action will break the systemic nature of racism and brutality directed at so many Americans. We do not control many of the steps needed to improve equity and safety in this country but we are responsible for what happens at NSCC. 

Given the nature of the crimes involved, we know that police are often central to the story. Our values at NSCC and the commitment of our NSCC Police Department is to assure our officers have the training, skills, awareness, and behavior that treat everyone with equity, decency, and concern for the safety of all.

NSCC’s new strategic plan includes Social Justice as a priority and a specific strategy included in the new draft Tactical Plan for Year 1 of the strategic plan is a community engagement approach for the NSCC Police. The Community Engagement policing model is active and attuned to breaking down barriers and providing officers with appropriate tools to address the myriad of issues they may face daily. Active trainings that have been completed and are planned include: Implicit Bias, Cultural Competency, De-escalation Techniques, Domestic Terrorism, Human Trafficking, CPR/First Responder Training, responding to Pandemics and Similar Emergencies and ALERRT-Active shooter training. For some of the training topics mentioned that are available to all, especially on Implicit Bias and Anti-racism, check our NSCC LinkedIn Learning resources. In addition to the Community Engagement policing model, Campus Police will be participating in planned activities on-campus throughout the Spring semester.

Over spring break NSCC Police are planning a full week of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), to which neighboring police departments will be invited. CIT programs are designed to educate police officers on effective interaction with individuals who may be in crisis and/or consumers of the mental health system. Incorporated in this training is the belief that a relationship with professionals of the mental health system, as well as family members of consumers, is crucial to providing the best possible care for these individuals as well as for resolving many situations that arise from their unique needs.

By no means are these actions alone sufficient to ensure the equitable and safe atmosphere we all desire at NSCC. Nonetheless, they are an important commitment by Chief David Cook and his police officers to the work that is needed. I applaud that commitment. Moreover, the ongoing work to refashion mental health services at the college as well as professional development rooted in social justice that is being planned for all employees are crucial elements in building a safe and equitable institution.

Like other elements of the strategic plan, we acknowledge at the start of implementation that we do not have all the answers necessary to deliver positive change. What we have is the commitment to start that change and some initial steps in the process. We will learn from those initial actions, make mistakes, adjust our approach as needed, and add new activities as we progress on this journey. 

Finally, although there is no disguising the ugly and grim news of acts of brutality at this time, it coexists besides acts of courage and kindness that remind us that we are as capable of good behavior as we are of awful actions. It is a choice, and each decision to follow the course of justice and equity is a signal of hope in the process of change.



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