TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — The Baltimore County Police Department is taking some tough steps to build a better police force starting with a brand new division.
The department’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office is being headed by Kelly Fenner, who family members and friends call “Miss Fix It.”READ MORE: Maryland Drivers See Week Of Price Increases At The Gas Pump
“D stands for diversity; diversity is the full spectrum of human differences,” Fenner said. “E stands for equity, and equity is the removal of barriers that restrict full access for everyone, whether it’s resources or opportunities, and inclusion is the feeling of being welcomed, supported and valued.”
It’s an office not many cities or states have — the department was one of the first law enforcement agencies on board, Fenner pointed out — but it’s a crucial one, Fenner said.
“It helps engrain empathy in our day-to-day activity,” she said.
And by hosting conversations, she’s pushing police officers to look within themselves.
“We’re taking a hard look at what we see and what others perceive us to be,” she said.READ MORE: Some Marylanders Plan To Take Precautions As COVID-19 Positivity Rate Rises Above 3 Percent
Much of the new division goes beyond building bridges within the police department to include the community at large.
One example is the friendship Wilkens Police and Community Relations organizer Otis Collins and Capt. Eliot Latchaw formed through frank conversations over coffee and eggs.
“We need to have those uncomfortable conversations so if something doesn’t go right or somebody’s not doing something right, pull them in,” Latchaw said.
“This is a good team here,” Collins said. “America just doesn’t know it yet.”
Fenner said her goal isn’t perfection but rather progression.
“We not only want to bridge the gap, we want to unify (the) Baltimore County Police Department and the community,” she said.MORE NEWS: Maryland Farmers' Market Week Kicks Off This Week