Harm Reduction in the Context of Interactions with Law Enforcement - Part 2

At the Core of Care

Published: January 29, 2024

SARAH: This is At the Core of Care, a podcast where people share their stories about nurses and their creative efforts to better meet the health and healthcare needs of patients, families, and communities. I’m Sarah Hexem Hubbard with the Pennsylvania Action Coalition and the Executive Director of the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. 

This episode is part two featuring a panel discussion that we recently hosted with the Obscured Journalism initiative. The panel explored law enforcement interactions with the community and how to implement a harm reduction care model. If you haven't heard part one we recommend that you go back and listen to that episode first. Here’s part two of the discussion from our partners at Obscured. 

EMILY: This is Obscured the podcast from Kouvenda Media about critical issues that don't get much attention because they're complex, overshadowed, and unfold largely out of the public eye. On this limited series, From Words to Weapons, we’re focused on survivors of law enforcement trauma. I’m Emly Previti. 

STEPHANIE: And I’m Stephanie Marudas. This is part 2 of a panel discussion about harm reduction in the context of interactions with law enforcement and solutions that could better promote community well-being. If you haven’t heard part 1 yet we recommend you go back and listen to that episode first before continuing with this one. 

EMILY: The discussion we’re about to hear was moderated by Stephanie and Namaijah Faison from the Pennsylvania Action Coalition and National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. As we heard on the previous episode, the three panelists are Talitha Smith, Chad Bruckner, and Laurie Corbin. 

STEPHANIE: The three of you have a lot of overlap, as we heard and, you know, have your unique experiences.

We heard a lot about how the three of you are in, positions to help and what that means. What we'd like to go right to now is about how do you do that help, and how do you keep the trust between law enforcement and the community? And what we also heard was that there has been a breakdown in that trust, and how do we regain that?

CHAD: I think this is a great topic because we have moved the goalposts back.

I think in so many professions, but we're here talking about law enforcement is the lack of transparency. The lack of honesty. If we're lying to ourselves, if we're lying to our teams, if we're lying inside our building, we will lie outside the building that will happen. So, we need to get back to that morality of telling your people lie in a leadership role is not okay.

Telling the community white lies in the name of justice or service is not okay. And I know we have talked ourself into those things are okay because we're serving people, we're protecting people. But that's a goalpost. We continue to remove that back. And if we could tell a white lie today, something could be a bigger lie tomorrow.

And I just think getting back to trust, it's like our relationships. If my wife lies to me, I'm going to have a trust issue. Same, same, vice versa. So, being honest, sometimes that direct candor, that respectful candor. I call it is some people get offended by it. I think just being honest and direct and open and engaging is this is the situation. This is the problem. It's not about blaming. It's about, this is what we're dealing with. 

What my experience has been, and I'd love to know what you guys think is, when we're culpable, when we have a little things that we're to blame, we're responsible for. That's where that fear comes in.

That's where that shame. Well, I don't want to get in trouble. I don't want to give up my job. So, that goalpost moving has now presented an opportunity to Tell a little lie to get out of this or, or, or twist the truth or operate in the gray a little bit. So for me, I just come from a place of transparency.

Absolutely. Trust, honesty, directness, and, not hiding, things that could be uncomfortable to people.

LAURIE: I think that's great. I think there has to be a place where. There are real honest conversations, like, with local police districts, you know, and community members, and what does that look like? And really, For the, and I'm going to say law enforcement to really listen and hear what people are saying.

Not, and not do the perform, oh well this is what we, no, let's take the mask off because everybody's wearing a mask. And let's be, goes back, so let's be real honest and, but it has to be ongoing. Can't be one and done, you know, can't be just this, you know, event. But also, how do you integrate police in a positive way, even into like community events?

Because again, you know, if you're having the block party, if you're having, whatever that may be, whatever the church is having, whatever the community center is having, whatever, you know, whatever that thing may be. How to engage, so that way the police really get to know who the community members are. You know, because again, it starts on the relationship level.

And that starts bringing down those walls of, of trust or mistrust that are so up there. I think the other thing is it's, I think the law enforcement, it's us versus them. And I think, you know, sometimes they're doing. Law enforcement is doing their job, but not realizing that as somebody who's not law enforcement, you're just trying to find out like what's happening, like what's going on.

It goes back to transparency. And there's no communication, even when there's an event happening. There's no communication.

CHAD: So I think this gets back to authority. It's.

Yeah, just because I'm in this authoritative role doesn't mean I have to be an authority figure, you know And I think that's where we have gotten wrong is yeah, like if I'm gonna introduce myself, I wouldn't say hi.

I'm officer Bruckner You know, why would I do that? That sounds so I mean, I know fortune 100 CEOs who just say their first and last name Right, but in policing we're officer so and so and I'm in a uniform Oh and you're sitting in your police car and I'm standing over you all these subconscious things of just create authority And I think you're right.

I think most times we don't try to be that way, but it just naturally goes that way. You have an uninformed citizen who maybe has lack of resources, needs support, and we're in this authoritative role. And it's like, no, take the mask off, take the uniform off, ditch the officer. How can I help you? Yeah, I love that.

TALITHA: I would say, you know, I know police, like I said, I know their job's hard. So, just as far as myself, I just want to be kind. You know, when's the last time you went up to the police officer and gave them some flattery? So, I just like to do it like a sandwich. And I'm like, oh, officer, thank you for being here.

Because when the police come where I work, against a ghost town. So, you know, I can walk down to the corner and say, Oh, I'm so glad you're here today. You know, thank you for helping us feel safe. And then what's going for me is I'm a nurse. Guess what? Everybody respects nurses and they think we're like great people, right?

So, I want to use my sphere of influence. I want to be like, I'm the nurse here and then I want to lead by example. If they see me dealing with this person that's all over the place and I'm still down there on the ground wrapping up their wound and I'm not getting angry, I'm leading by example.

So that's my, sandwich, you know, I make it pleasant. Little feedback and then lead by example. I love that. Most cops too think that's a great point. 'cause most police, I think, have, the media hasn't done a, a favor in that regard. And I think a lot of cops think that the public right or wrong is already coming into the encounter, not liking them or not respecting them.

LAURIE: Right.

CHAD: And that subconscious, uh, I think rhetoric. When you layer it all together with the authority and the lack of transparency all just created this perfect storm of well, they don't care about they don't respect us. Well, how do you know that like you're we hold on? We got to get some community conversations.

I'm sure most of the citizens in this town wherever the town you live in respect you. So we can't go into it thinking that they don't respect you. If you go into it already thinking that, then it's going to create a negative encounter and that comes from the culture, that comes from the leadership.

If we have really empathetic, engaging, influential leaders at the top reminding the officers, it's going to be all right. They love you. They respect you. They're going to hold you accountable just like I am. You know, that, that level of collaboration is, I think it's the only way we get, get to where we need to get to.

We have to, like you said, take off the masks and let's have some real conversations.

NAMAIJAH: And that's a pretty good segue into my next question. I know this is probably something that everybody wants to touch base on, but if you all are not aware back in, I think sometime in August, there was an incident with, um, a young gentleman, his name is Eddie Jose Irizarry, am I pronouncing it right?

Where I know if most of you have seen the footage, there was an incident with him and a police officer and him sitting in his car and due to misunderstanding, misinterpretation that young man unfortunately lost his life due to the understanding or thought of him having a weapon in his hand that could have threatened that police officer's life.

And Chad, I know you can probably speak a little bit more about this, but I wanted to get everyone's opinions and thoughts on this. You know, when the camera footage came out, when we found out that the officer wasn't actually cooperating with the investigation that brought a lot more of mistrust with community members.

And it also kind of was a deja vu because this is not the first time that something has happened, not only in Philadelphia, but in other cities, other states, countries. So, what are your current perspectives on that incident along with the discrepancies that have followed the initial reporting?

And kind of how, going back to trust with community members and police officers, how has that incident... either change your perspective or just made you become a little bit more aware, especially in your incident, Chad, with, you know, now that you're no longer working in law enforcement and being able to see it from a different perspective.

CHAD: Yeah, it's a very sensitive topic and that's frankly, when I was on the job, I was thinking the same way I think now as I was trying to advocate and train and encourage police officers to lead that same way. So I don't, I didn't see the video. I don't know everything about it, but I do know the story and I read the news release, what I'll say about that situation, which I think is context to all the other issues that happen in America. Lack of training. There's a lot of fear in police officers, a lot of fear. I was again, just from my experience serving in combat, leading combat missions.

When I came home to Montgomery County to work and be a police officer, I was like, great. You know, I was I served in those those tough environments overseas, lost, you know, been around the loss of life been around some really traumatic events. So when I came home, I was an honor to serve my citizens.

Some of the cops that just generally that you work with over time that I worked with. It had that us versus them mentality. And I would remind them again, these are our brothers and sisters, you know, I fought the enemy over there. This is not that. But if you don't have that perspective, you don't have that experience.

And then you have leaders on top of that, they're encouraging the SWAT mindset and just that tactical military militarization mindset. It just creates a situation where you get a 22-year-old cadet with a high school diploma or maybe 60 college credits, not a lot of life experience, immerse him in this or him or her in this culture and tell them that this is the way it is. Of course, they're gonna go along and get along. And, um, so we, we really got to focus on the culture to, to attack that because the fear is a real thing. Policing is a dangerous job, but not everyone's trying to hurt us and not every situation is a dangerous situation.

And a lot of cops, I think, without the lack of support inside their agencies and that, that robust mental, emotional health, uh, health, you know. Facilitation. They have just a lot of them have become very fearful of media attacks, citizen attacks. Everybody's got a weapon or a lot of people have weapons and it's just, it's created a really, you know, toxic situation for them.

And I feel bad for and I know so many of these young police officers that are dealing with that. 

LAURIE: I think what we also have to talk about is racism and bias because again, that's still there. And so, again, it's, it's us versus them, but it's those people versus. You know, it's, it's, it's, I'm sorry, so much of it is still tied up in racism. And again, if people look a certain way or present in a certain way, they are going to be treated differently than other people.

And so that goes back to culture and training. So it brings, so, you know, that's the initial response. It's like, this is racist. This continues to be the racism that happens. You know, how do we, how do we change? Like, not everybody's not going to not be a racist. Let's call it what it is. Okay, let's be honest. There will be people who always will be racist, but how do we minimize the number of those folks who are doing this type of work?

And how it goes back to relational, like sometimes folks have never met another person outside of their culture. You know, I just, I just, like I always say, like not in my lifetime, we're not going to get past… like people always talk about when Obama got elected, you know, we're going to be a post racial… I don't think, no, because it's a racist country, let's call it what it is.

And so, how do we really begin to address those issues, and then when those things happen, how do those things get addressed disciplinarily within departments? And it's not tolerated, and it's not accepted, because that's what happens. You know, and I think that's where my concern is.

TALITHA: I think, like, they're always on administrative pay with, you know. It's like we get punished so hard when poor people do stuff.


TALITHA: They look at the fines, the book thrown out. So I just don't think we can understand that you're off with pay until the investigation. I just, and I don't want to throw everybody away because we all make mistakes, right? I know nurses, we can't, they're like, oh, you can't make a mistake because you would kill somebody, like that's what they teach us at school.

You know from the door and do they teach police officers that? Like, no, you can't make a mistake because you can kill somebody. So I think it just needs to be another perspective shift.

And we can make all the policies and procedures we want. You know you still got somebody at your job that don't act right. 

LAURIE: That's right. 

TALITHA: Right? But, as the organizational culture shuns that, you don't need a policy or a procedure. We don't do that here. 

LAURIE: That's right.

CHAD: Preach that one.

STEPHANIE: And this might come back to Laurie, what you brought up about, you know, police crisis response, right, like in the case of, uh, this, you know, that had a social worker or somebody been deployed, quote, unquote, right, and that it was a militarized response.

LAURIE: It was a militarized response. And so again, how do we get away from the militarized response? So you, you know, you can get the crisis person, but also how do you train and how do you build the culture? That this is what we do and this is how we act. And yes, mistakes will happen, but if it does, you know, again, then you get shunned and you get disciplined and you don't get paid.

And I can sit here thinking, I'll say, we don't value life. We, we don't, you know, at any level. And so it just, again, it gets played out. So even having that conversation, when you go out on your job, police officer, you have the ability, if you act incorrectly, to take someone's life.

Same as a nurse. If you act incorrectly. It may happen by accident. I get it. But to kind of keep that in mindset, yeah, it can be fearful. But if, I think once you lose that and realize that somebody's life is valuable. Everybody's life is valuable. And I think that's where I also look at it…

CHAD: I've wrote about this in the book because I think it's important to understand. We talked about adverse childhood experiences and then on top of that, police officers are dealing with traumatic events in this, in the community. 

So they're constantly going through changes and a lot of pain. They have a lot of pain points. And especially if they didn't deal with their childhood stuff. So, I write this section of my book about, I really studied narcissistic personality disorder. I'm not a clinician, but I just wanted to read and learn more about it. And I actually put it in my book, a little bit about it.

But, I just want to highlight, narcissism really stems from deep pain. And you are now chasing professional or personal pursuits to fill those voids, to fill that deep pain. It's unhealthy because oftentimes you will take hostages and you will do bad things along the way to fill that void.

But really it stems from pain. So if we can really understand human behavior and understand why people are doing the things they do. Tell me about your pain. What can I do to help you? And that's kind of what we're doing with police officers. Stop telling me about them and putting the finger at them.

Tell me about you. Where have you been? What have you seen? What have you done? And I guarantee when we do that, all that stuff, we're going to value human life more. We're going to have better relationships. We're going to love the community. 

I mean, we've got to get back to, to police officers are not the corral of the community. We don't rope and dope everybody. You know, we are just here to provide public safety and services. The citizen we stop for speeding, that person has a full time job, most likely. What makes their job any less significant than the job of the police officer? It doesn't. So when we had that collaboration, now it's not all for so and so.

I'm like, Hey, John, sorry to pull you over. I'm Chad Bruckner with the police department. Dude, you were flying down Main Street, brother. I'm sorry. I'm going to work. All right. Can you slow it down a little bit? Yeah, right. That was a relation, that was a conversation.

I still have the authority to cite him if I wanted to. I didn't need to tell him I have the authority. I don't need to remind him, like we know that stuff. And that just comes from a very, uh, Sigma male. I've been really studying a lot about Sigma males. I don't want to get off the rails here, but because I really want to help a police officer. I'm really going to dive deep a little bit, though.

I really want to help police officers. We have this thing. We love alpha males. We celebrate alpha males and we do all this stuff like it's a great thing. There's nothing wrong with being an alpha male, but not everybody is that, not every male is an alpha male. So if you're a sigma male like me, very stoic, confident, you can move in the shadows, take the lead in the limelight, come back into the shadows.

I don't need it to be about me. There's a very powerful thing being a sigma male and I want to help cops. I know there's a lot of cops that are Sigma males that they have been culturally, for whatever reason, told that that's not okay or not acceptable. Because what the Sigma male does is they throw an absolute wrench into an alpha male's plan.

You can't coerce a Sigma male. Alpha males use fear and dominance and other strong things again, but in policing, I really think we get, it's done itself a disservice by having such aggression or toxicity.

I always say I can fight with the best of them, but I really wouldn't rather. I'd rather love it. Yeah. Love on you first. But if I need to, I will. And I'm going to do it 100%. But I don't need to lead that way. And I don't want to tell you I could do that. Like, and a lot of police, I think comes from fear, shame, all these things we wrapped together.

And it's, you know, they kind of turtle up and there's a lot of fear if we could just help them become, tapping who they are as people, as human beings. Because a lot of them, I don't think you even know that this is what I do for a career. This is my vocation. I'm a cop. What am I gonna do? Bro, you gotta stop thinking that way.

You're a human first. You're a son. You're a brother. Right? You're all these things before your job. Because when you start to identify with your job guarantee, I don't know how much time or how long it's gonna take, but eventually you're gonna hurt somebody because your job is the job. My job. My job.

It's a job. It's a vocation. You could love it and you could be passionate. I loved it. And you could do all that. You could burn the candle at both ends to serve people. If you want, you could do all that. But when you're starting to affect other people's lives, hurt people, that's not okay. 

We need to be self aware to say, you know what? I need to stop. I need a break. I need to figure this out. And we got to surround ourselves with people that hold us accountable. Culturally, we haven't done that. I think we're starting to get to that point.

NAMAIJAH: Yeah, and that kind of brings us to our next point, Chad. You mentioned a lot about self awareness and police officers, uh, basically not taking care of themselves and not acknowledging the fact that they need help.

And from a person looking in, you know, community members, we don't realize that, we don't realize that a lot of police officers are hiding what they have dealt with in the past, and they're putting that out on these community members that they have daily interaction with.

CHAD: So can I share a quick story? I'll do it for like two minutes if that's possible. 

NAMAIJAH: Yeah, no. Yeah, that's fine. 

CHAD: Some of that. I want to just kind of give you what I was feeling as a police officer to show you what that was like. So in 2019 I was working Thanksgiving 2019. I was very depressed. I was suicidal or I had suicidal ideation. But I work with a great mask.

I was smiling, joking around. Always a positive guy in the community and stuff like that. But you didn't know that, you didn't know what I was thinking and feeling. You would have never known. Why would I tell you that? Why would I show you that? It was from a place of fear and judgment stigma. I don't want you to know.

You see me to be Mr. Positive. So how can I be anything other than that? There's a lot of cops that deal with stuff like that. And then they're going on call. So I got a call for a disturbance and an elderly lady lives alone. It's coming home from Thanksgiving dinner. She found some male in her bed. She lives alone and she has to be in her eighties.

Of course, she's gonna call nine one, freaking out. Now the male was intoxicated and he lived two doors down. He just was so drunk. He went to the wrong apartment, not the wrong road, and not not the right house. So he wasn't violent anything, but he was very drunk. 

You can imagine the, the right, we get back to this, this communication, if we don't communicate share, everybody's coming at it from their perspective. That guy thinks he's in his house and here I am as a police officer telling him, you gotta get up. Right? Who's right? Who's wrong? I mean, really, you know, this is where it becomes less about enforcement and more about communication, conversation. She was upset that this guy was in her bed. He didn't realize he was in somebody else's bed, right?

So, again, the old days, we'll arrest this guy, we'll throw him in jail, call him a burglar, call him a sex addict or a rapist. We do all these things and we just label people and not think about it. That guy had no idea he did anything wrong. And on top of all that, I was dealing with my own stuff. So I wasn't the best.

So instead of dealing with it the way I want, I started wrestling with him on the back deck when he started to resist me. He just pulled away from the handcuffs. That's all he did was pull away. He didn't fight me, he didn't punch me, all he did... Who would want to have handcuffs put on? Nobody would want that.

And he just pulled away, and I immediately went into defensive mode. I didn't strike him, but I grabbed him to gain control. We started wrestling around on the deck, and I was able to get handcuffs on him. It lasted 30 seconds, because he was really drunk. 

But I look back at that situation just as a microcosm of… Every police officer, not every, so many police officers, are in those spaces. You're dealing with lack of information on the call, confusing calls, you don't know what's going on. So, I just wanted to share, thank you for letting me share that. That's kind of some of the, you know, what they're dealing with behind the scenes.

NAMAIJAH: What is your experience that you've had with community members or people that you helped in, the stories that they've have described to you when it comes to their various interactions with law enforcement figures or experience that you've had with law enforcement figures in your current roles or past positions that you've had.

Like, do you see a commonality when it comes to the description that some of the people that you interact with, you know. Are there commonality characteristics or types of interactions that you notice is a common theme, especially when talking about police officers and the aggression that people have experienced and things that they're hiding inside and just putting their anger or frustration out to community members when it can be handled a different way.

TALITHA: We deal with people who are post-incarcerated, so everybody's been arrested. They really don't have a positive outlook when it comes to dealing with the police and even at the Allegheny County Jail. It is horrible when people come out and they tell me the stories.

t's like they're all animals and they're just locked up and I don't even know if the Officers see their own humanity. They’re there and they make them do double shifts and they keep them there. And I'm just like, Oh, they need a hug. So again, I'm always going to go back to… 

Everybody needs a little bit more love and maybe if they had somebody that showed them compassion, they would be better off doing their jobs. Because at this point, like what can you expect from a person that they make do double shifts, five days a week. Like that's unreasonable. We can't say things like, oh, they have no reason to act like that because if you're hungry and you're tired, you're not your sweetest self.

But it's a shame that, um, people are scared of the police or just automatically think they're going to hurt them. And, you know, if you had somebody think about you in that way, wouldn't you be hurt? And when you are hurt, like, you turn to anger if somebody always thinks you're a bad person.

So I just try to look at everything from both ways. And I just always remember that even a broken clock is right twice a day. So we have to listen and hear everybody out. And we need changes on both sides. 

It's not that they don't need help too. Because police officers need… everybody needs help, like I said. But they need help to be better police officers, better selves, better to the community. So... everybody's not looking at them like that. 

Um, I was thinking about cops like and how we see police officers and how we watched them and that was glorified. It just has to be a different way and that needs to be glorified.

What do we value? We value the police officer coming to the community event. Like those sort of types of images. People say like I need to see people like myself doing great things so I know that I can achieve them or, you know, children. So we need to see police officers doing these things. So we know like, oh, we don't always have to be afraid all the time of them.

CHAD: You bring up a good point about glorifying, you know, police work. I don't, I don't even know why we did that as a society. But you're right. We had TV shows and I would say they trained, like this isn't a cool job. This is roll your sleeves up and get muddy. 

Almost at a detriment, big time. We make TV shows and we get tattoos and you'd be cool. And you wear cool sunglasses and you get paid a lot of money in some areas compared to other areas. We get paid a fraction to what you're making it to very, uh, interesting, uh, profession. I almost can think that 20, 25 years ago, we started to really professionalize policing where we expected executives to get degrees.

And then we expect them to get master degrees and. We have police leaders who are seemingly spending less time than before with their guys and girls and training and momentum because they're out chasing their stuff. There seems to be this class separation of the executive at the top and then these double shifts and everybody, the officers working.

It's kind of a microcosm of a lot of areas of society and this is what my passion has been really going after the chief executive role and really understanding like that is the most important job. It's not sit on your, you know, rest on your laurels, you made it there. It is the most important job.

It's the most hardworking job. We need the most moral men and women in that position. There is no negotiating on that. There is none. If we want to fix it, that's what we have to do. And that's a solution. It's easy to say, but it's really hard to implement. And I'll just keep keep drumming the beat with it.

We have to do it. And if that means current chiefs in their current roles aren't in chiefs two, three years from now, I know that's scary and that's sad, but we have to make some changes. We have to figure it out because this society, our country needs good police officers, good, moral minded police officers.

And this is this problem has been going on for years, so I don't act like [00:26:00] I'm gonna be able to fix it. But, um yeah.

TALITHA: One bite at a time.

CHAD: One bite at a time. 

LAURIE: I was going to say two things. Um, to piggyback on what you just said about the culture change, I had an uncle who was, who was a retired Philadelphia police sergeant.

His daughter wanted to become a police officer, and this was about 35 years ago. He told her no, because the culture had changed. He said it wasn't the same police department. You know, when he started, that it was when she had an interest. Now it's very, you know, and it sticks in my mind. It was just like, I remember Uncle Kenny told her, no, no, she's not going to do that.

It's a whole different world. It's a whole different culture. He did not think, and she really desired and wanted to do that because she kind of wanted to follow her, follow her father's footsteps. So I think it speaks volumes to how things have changed over time.

CHAD: So my PI firm, one of the jobs we do, we screen police officers.

We do their background assessments for. And it's been really alarming the last couple of years to see, you know, some of the applicants who are really good applicants to watch their chain of command to try to destroy them because they're leaving their agency and going to another department. Because we'll be honest, if we really study and understand organizational culture, people don't leave a job and go to another job in the same profession for a better opportunity.

Let's be honest. It's the people. It's the people. You just want to get away from those people. You love the job, you didn't like the people, so you went to another company. So... That, that's the issue we're dealing with. We have a people problem in the profession. We have, uh, just too much at the top where, where, you know, I have a bunch of friends who colleagues who are minorities in police roles, the stuff they dealt with, the stuff they continue to deal with, racism.

It's insane to me. I'm like, dude, how you're the chief. He's like, it don't matter. I'm like, wow. And those are comments from other chiefs who maybe don't look the same way, you know. So we just, we love to eat each other alive. It's a noble profession and we need it. I believe it. That's why I'm fighting for it.

But to say we don't need to make drastic changes would be grossly inappropriate, I think. 

STEPHANIE: Just any, you know, final recommendations that you might have for practitioners, researchers, stakeholders. who are thinking about how do you support law, enforcement trauma survivors.

You know, what to kind of keep in mind. We've heard a lot about humanity today, love, openness, transparency, talking, culture change. But, if there's anything here that, to think forward about how we provide support in this space.

LAURIE: I mean, I always think when you're talking about, you know, support, it's like you have to let people tell their story and what their experience and respect that.

Because again, I think what happens also, people have had experiences and people, you know, oh that didn't really happen or let people tell their story. That's, that's the first step in them and then regaining their humanity, I think engaging with them and, you know, listen to their story, you know, what kind of, how can I support you?

What are some things that we can do? What would you like to see happen? And sort of walk with them on that journey. Because I think everybody's journey is going to be a little bit different. And everybody may be looking for something different. But again, you know, also reinforcing with them, like, you know, you may have had a bad situation, but you're not a bad person.

You know, and also what you encountered, you know, it wasn't about you, it was really about them. And that's really hard, when you have to step back and say, it's not about you, it's about them. And I think to have those conversations, that would be one thing I would encourage. I just would encourage my Patients to report it, you know, sometimes they think they can't say anything like who's going to listen to me.

I'm going to listen to you and we're going to do the same exact thing we would do if you were not in addiction and you had a regular job, we're going to report it. And the next person we're going to report it. We're going to keep reporting it until we have a document trail on whomever this person is. Because if they hurt you, they are going to hurt someone else.

So, I just want to make sure that everybody knows they do have a voice and they have the right to do what any other person is doing. Drug addiction doesn't take away your rights.

CHAD: I just want to piggyback on what Laurie said, because I really think that's awesome, um, storytelling and affirmations. Like, is it really that hard to throw to more affirmations or validations to people? People have been through, like, I've been through my situation and I didn't really get into it. But the police department though, I just wanted a validation.

Does somebody see what's happening here? And guess what? I still never got it. So, um, because that, and that, that's, that's, that's, that's traumatic for me. It's like, wow. I think that kind of fuels me a little bit. We have to just. Affirm and, and make these, attempts to be more human. We just have to do it.

You see the world, you see the world is seemingly on fire in many places. And it's, it's, where's the humanity? And it's, it's, it's not to say that things aren't bad or there's not reasons we do things, but to listen more and to, to affirm. Hey, I'm sorry that happened to you. Uh, just thank you for sharing that with me.

I think that goes a lot to letting people feel like, okay, all right. Well, I got somebody, I got one ally that's listening to me. 

STEPHANIE: Special thanks to Talitha Smith, Chad Bruckner, and Laurie Corbin for taking the time to be on the panel and their presentations. As well as to our partners at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium and the Pennsylvania Action Coalition for their collaboration. We also want to thank the Law Enforcement Action Partnership for their assistance and the Independence Public Media Foundation for their support of the panel discussion and the production of this podcast episode.

EMILY: Next time on Obscured, the discussion turns to compensation and support for people who've been exonerated. We covered that theme in episode three of our series about Chester Holman III and the politics of wrongful conviction. 

On our next episode, we're bringing you a panel discussion produced in partnership with the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice. You'll hear from Chester, Pennsylvania Speaker of the House, Joanna McClinton, and Herman Lindsey who's also been exonerated and is now executive director of Witness to Innocence.

JOANNA: I always like to look at the challenges with our criminal justice system and the progress as it totally being a marathon. Not at all or one around the last sprint so with each piece of legislation that is able to get through the house and then the Senate. It gives us the next goal because none of these statues are perfect because they have to become palatable to our Republican control Senate so that they can even consider taking it up. 

STEPHANIE: In the meantime for more about Obscured and the rest of our work keep up with us on social @KouvendaMedia 

EMILY: Obscured’s From Words to Weapons series is produced by Kouvenda Media and mixed by Brad Linder. Malik Calhoun composed the music for this episode and the rest of our series. 

STEPHANIE: Special thanks to Obscured’s fiscal sponsor, Media Alliance which is one of the oldest media change organizations in the United States and helps our podcast receive tax-deductible contributions. And we're grateful to Obscured’s founding supporters who've made donations to support our journalism initiative.

EMILY: You can help more people discover Obscured by leaving us a review on your favorite podcast app and sharing it with others who might be interested.

STEPHANIE: I'm Stephanie Marudas, Kouvenda Media’s Executive Producer and Obscured’s Co-Creator.

EMILY: And I'm Emily Previti, Executive Editor and Co-Creator of Obscured. Thanks for listening.