89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Role-Playing To Reduce Conflicts With Police

The community event featuring role-playing exercises and discussion, Saturday August 20, 2016, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Warehouse 508 in Albuquerque.

It can be stressful and sometimes scary to be pulled over by a police officer for a traffic stop. Some local actors, writers and artists are planning an interactive role-playing event this weekend at Warehouse 508 in Albuquerque for cops and people from the community to come together to learn about each other and practice how to avoid conflict. It's called CommUNITY Conversation - Positive Policing: Reimagining the Traffic Stop.

Event organizer and actor Darryl DeLoach spoke with KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel. He works as part of use of force and crisis intervention trainings for Albuquerque police officers. Sometimes he’s playing the role of a person with a drug problem or a mental health issue, giving officers the opportunity to learn how to deal with people in crisis.

This weekend’s event will take that role-playing a bit further. This time it will be the officers and people from the community who get to act the part.

KUNM: Give me a snapshot of what this event is going to look like this weekend.

DeLoach: The idea is to explore the idea of what public safety means. So, we have some exercises to bring up those concepts in a very playful and general way. We also want a writing component.

As an actor and an artist, I am someone who feels that the arts is the greatest way to communicate around these ideas, to express your fears and confusion, all this stuff. So we are basing it on using those writings to give people the opportunity to understand how someone else might feel.

So, the idea is to, through these games and exercises, have someone switch shoes with an officer and vice versa. The officer also gets to hear and see and say, from another point of view, what some of these problems may be. These are all ways for people to interact with officers and have fun, actually see them in a different way, and also for the officers to see these people within the community a different way.

KUNM: What does success for this project look like?

DeLoach: Wow. The other day, not too long ago, right after the event that occurred in Nice, France, we had our SummerFest -

KUNM: This is the terrorist attack where a man drove a truck and killed dozens of people.

DeLoach: Yeah, well, the day after that we had our SummerFest in Nob Hill. I went to the SummerFest and it was funny, I had recently done a use of force training with APD so as I was going and strolling up the street I was noticed by a lot of the officers that were there guarding the crowd. But I was realizing the contrast there.

They were there and they were doing the job almost invisibly and the contrast to what happened in France. Here we are in Route 66. I felt everyone there felt really safe and comfortable with the police there and I just felt that’s how it should be all the time.

And hopefully, ultimately, it’s also to change the negative feelings within law enforcement themselves. I mean, I experience and hear and see a lot of their frustration and I feel like it’s an opportunity to, hopefully, remove some of that from the equation so that we can have a little more honest relationship. 

Elaine Baumgartel was KUNM's News Director from 2013 to 2019. She was local Morning Edition host from 2007 through 2012 and she regularly hosted the station's live news and public affairs show for some years. Elaine originally came on board at KUNM as a volunteer and student employee in 2003.