The Other Side of the Door: the art of compassion in policing is my recently published book charting a project I created in partnership with Lt. Jack Cambria, the then head of the NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Team, to develop an arts-based compassion training program for police officers. After securing funding from the Dan and Joanna Rose Foundation, we developed a program that used storytelling and actor training techniques to facilitate sensitivity training that was reflexive—that allowed the law enforcement officials to engage with their own vulnerabilities as well as the vulnerabilities of the communities that they encountered, on a deeply sensory and personal level. As I designed the project, I included a phase of collaboration with six performance poets who participated in the training activities themselves, and created a series of performance poems in response to the experience.
A core part of the project was a series of sensory adventures that the participants took in the NYC area. They were sent to places that they were familiar with as well as places that they were specifically unfamiliar with and set a series of tasks to accomplish. Sometimes they were solo quests. Sometimes they were with a partner from the cohort. Sometimes they were interactions with people in the different places, and sometimes they were with the places themselves. They were activating different senses throughout the city in order to accomplish the quests, and bringing their findings back to the group to explore and discuss.
A book chronicling the project was published this year from Hamline University Press and is available for purchase or as a free pdf download.