Police Officers, Ex-Offenders Warily Take Part In TN Collaboration


Six police officers and six ex-offenders were brought together reluctantly, a few weeks after the fatal shooting of a young black man by a police officer and the fatal shooting of a police officer by a young black man, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The program is called “Performing the Peace,” a collaboration among the Memphis Police Department, the Lifeline to Success re-entry program, the University of Memphis, and Playback Memphis. “I just know them as criminals, people we put behind bars,” said one officer who entered the collaboration warily. “They keep getting out and we keep having to put them back in. I’m hesitant to meet these people. I might have to arrest them one day. I don’t want to get to know them.”

Over several weeks and a dozen two-hour sessions, they did their best to work out whatever awkwardness, anxiety and anger they were feeling among themselves and toward each other. In the process, they got to know, like and trust each other. Virginia Murphy, Playback’s co-founder and executive director, calls it a form of nonviolent resistance. “Resistance to cynicism, fear, despair, mistrust that we have in our community,” she said. “What happens in Playback is that people become human to each other.”

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