If you asked us what an ideal exchange looks like, we would say “one that touches Philadelphians from every walk of life – government representatives, business leaders, students, and the public.” That is exactly what our first in-person exchange since covid shutdowns was able to achieve. A delegation of 15 German police officers and nonprofit representatives visited Philadelphia and the surrounding region in October to discuss solutions and best practices in community policing.
In the summer and fall of 2020, marches and civil unrest erupted in Philadelphia and across the United States, capturing worldwide attention. Images of both destruction and hope traveled around the world to other cities, including Berlin, managing similar challenges. Those images were still fresh in the minds of a delegation of 15 German police officers and nonprofit representatives who visited Philadelphia. Their 7-day itinerary included conversations with a diverse mix of leaders, including the Philadelphia and Camden County police departments and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. A highlight was a moderated discussion with high school students from Science Leadership Academy. Students candidly shared their thoughts on policing, sometimes informed by generational experiences and their hopes for the future of their city.
Over 7 days the delegation experienced a tour of Independence Hall, plus restaurants, shopping, attractions., and a wide breadth of professional development including: A panel for business leaders on Community Policing and Business at the Union League with Chief Inspector Michael Cram of PPD, Ray Mustafa, owner of two supermarkets in the 52nd St Commercial District, impacted by the 2020 protests, and Bjorn Carlsson of German police. Constitution Center’s ‘Policing In A More Perfect Union’ examining the history of policing in a democratic society and its historical context within the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Roundtable and in-depth discussions with: Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), Commission on Human Relations, and Citizen Oversight Commission. PPD’s Internal Affairs and Community Relations units on Philadelphia’s and Germany’s policies and practices. Councilmember Jaime Gauthier and her constituents discussed the 2020 protests and the implications of the 1985 MOVE bombing. Interfaith Philadelphia, Volunteers of America, the Camden County Police Department, the NAACP, and a photojournalist working with Camden residents.
“I was impressed to see young students be really brave to speak to adults and ask difficult questions. It was touching to hear their personal stories and hear their daily experiences with the police,” shared Jamunna Oehlmann, whose organization in Berlin promotes exchange between civil society and security authorities.
Thank you to Steve Kelly of Imagine360 and Chris Vargo of PNC Bank for sponsoring our public panel and reception. Thanks to our incredible community for hosting these critical, global discussions with us. Philadelphia and Camden Collaborations is administered by Cultural Vistas, in collaboration with Citizens Diplomacy International, and is generously funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through the European Recovery Program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.