"Building A Bridge Between Police & Community"
About SPCP SPCP Council members
Jacqueline Beirne, SPCP Chairwoman and Tai Richardson, Executive Committee SPCP Member
Hamden Chamber of Commerce Community Organization of the Year 2022
Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) program is a collaborative effort of Hamden residents, town officials and the U.S. Department of Justice - Community Relations Service. “The Hamden SPCP Council is a collaborative effort aimed at building a bridge through partnerships between the Community and the Hamden Police Department. Our goal is to advocate for positive changes, promote educational opportunities, and provide greater transparency around important issues.”
The SPCP Council members were selected by their peers from their respective stakeholder groups during the SPCP community sessions. The stakeholder groups include Community Advocacy, Faith, Government, Law Enforcement, Business, Education, Disabilities, Elderly, and Youth.
The SPCP program is designed to improve public safety by strengthening trust and developing partnerships between law enforcement professionals and the diverse communities they serve. The SPCP program engages local law enforcement and community members in a dialogue to identify issues and solve problems collaboratively.
The SPCP Council acts in an advisory capacity and work in conjunction with law enforcement leaders in the Town of Hamden. The facilitator for the Hamden SPCP Council is Jacqueline Beirne.
The Hamden SPCP Council can be contacted at email@example.com and via Facebook (Hamden SPCP: Strengthening Police & Community Partnerships).
HAMDEN SPCP COUNCIL: ISSUES, SOLUTIONS, ACTIONS
ISSUE #1: There needs to be trust and visibility in the community with police. The police need to be a part of the community as opposed to just policing the community.
ISSUE #2: Lack of police personnel trained to deal with people with disabilities, racial & cultural differences, & senior citizens.
ISSUE #3: Uptick in crime in shopping areas; increased panhandling in Plaza; Youthful offenders with guns; thefts & break-ins.
SOLUTIONS & ACTIONS:
SOLUTION: HPD should seek opportunities to partner/support community resources that proactively address the root causes of crime, poverty, and inequalities in Hamden.
ACTIONS: SPCP Council helped highlight HPD activities & relationships with non-profit service providers already existing around this issue, as well as helped facilitate better relationships with organizations such as SWAN, Clifford Beers, CT-VIP, SEPTA, HYSB, after-school programs & youth sports engagement.
SOLUTION: Training for HPD should include field trips to hear and learn from different (underserved/isolated) communities, engaging populations at their baseline instead in crisis.
ACTIONS: SPCP helped expand officer training to include Autism specific training; SRO and beat officers visiting the senior centers & special needs centers; officers volunteering to serve in community soup kitchens, food drives, toy drives, etc. Officers participated in documentary film screenings for the community regarding youth crime involvement and understanding special needs (along with dialogue sessions afterward).
SOLUTION: HPD should institute more walking beats, providing opportunities for informal, non-crisis-related exchanges with residents and businesses.
ACTIONS: SPCP Council Executive Committee routinely discusses this need with our police department leadership. Due to staffing shortages the walking beats/bike beats are not always possible, but officers are implementing as much as possible. Officers do visit local businesses along their beats and speak with citizens when covering public places.
SOLUTION: HPD should regularly hold open community conversations between PD and the general community.
ACTIONS: 3 Community Safety Forums held last year with PD, Mayor, other elected officials hearing from the community regarding their fears, thoughts, and perceived needs (especially as related to Issue #3).
Multiple meetings with PD, Board of Ed, School Administrators, SPCP to draft a cohesive and thorough Memorandum of Understanding for our schools and SROs.
SPCP Council has an email and phone line for community members to contact us with input to share with police department, for those that do not wish to contact police directly with non-emergency issues, to offer constructive criticism/input, or even the occasional “kudos” to our PD.
Annual events hosted by SPCP & HPD are Father’s Day BBQ in Villano Park, our Summer Special Needs Dance in the Town Center Park with our neurodivergent population, and National Night Out in August.
SPCP held 3 Community Listening Sessions asking the community to give us their definition of “Community Policing” and what they want to see from the HPD. Our findings were shared with the Mayor and the Police Chief.
Jacqueline Beirne, ChSNC
Facilitator of SPCP Council
University of Alabama: BA Political Science 1999 & MBA-Finance 2002
Financial Advisor, Chartered Special Needs Consultant
Clifford Beers Project Administrator
Co-Founder of Hamden’s Special Education PTA
Former President of Toastmasters-Prudential Annuities
Member of Hamden’s Partnership for Young Children
Member of Hamden/North Haven Collaborative (South Central Network of Care)
Member of Hamden Chamber of Commerce
SPCP COUNCIL MEMBERS:
Dawn Cathey, LMSW
With a degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University, my professional career began in the New Haven Police Department. After earning my master’s degree in Social Work, I transitioned to teaching and advising at Southern Connecticut State University. Today, I am an adjunct professor and academic advisor at Southern Connecticut State University and Quinnipiac University (First Year Seminar, “What is the Future of Policing in America?”), Gateway Community College (Introduction to Sociology) and University of New Haven (Principles of Communications.)
I have been a very proud Hamden resident for most of my life. My husband and I enjoy raising our family (four kids) here and value the community that we have been lucky enough to be a part of for the last 26 years.
I am excited about the work that the SPCP has been tasked to do. I am looking forward to strengthening the human relationships between the HPD and community members with knowledge, sensitivity, and unique collaborations that only a town like Hamden can offer.
Rev. Odell Montgomery Cooper
MA, Exec. Director for Interruptions Disrupting the Silence, LLC, which is dedicated to disrupting the silence of trauma by providing a pathway of healing through the creative arts, educational platforms, and shared stories. Rev. Cooper is an advocate for Mental Health, Gun Violence and Social Justice issues that impact communities of color. Rev. Cooper completed her undergraduate degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She also earned her master’s degree at Hartford Seminary. Rev. Odell is currently a podcaster, playwright, and author of “Interruptions: Disrupting the Silence” launching this spring which is her personal story of losing her son to gun violence. Through her faith and resilience Rev. Odell became an advocate and launched Interruptions and shares how she turned the trauma of her New Haven story/Hamden story into a healing for the community. Rev. Cooper is an Associate Minister at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Executive Leadership with CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New CT) and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Sociology-Central CT State University 2005
Juvenile Probation Supervisor
Owner-Richardson Training and Consulting, LLC
1st Vice President: New Haven Alumni Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated
Board Of Directors: Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP).
Jeremy Brewer is a Police Officer with the town of Hamden. He’s been serving our community since July 2006. He began his police journey in 2002 working for the Yale University Police Department. He brings 25 years of emergency service experience. Prior to policing, Jeremy worked as an emergency medical technician for a commercial ambulance. His passion to connect to people during some of the most trying times is his calling. He now serves as Hamden PD’s crisis services liaison officer, where he works with many outside agencies to help solve some of our challenging situations. He’s taken what he’s learned on the streets and applies it as a trainer. He helps train police in the art of crisis intervention. He often speaks for a nonprofit organization called the Connecticut alliance to benefit law enforcement.
Officer Jenisse Perez-Hernandez
Employed with HPD for a little over 8 years.
I have the pleasure of being a part of both the patrol and community divisions within the police department.
Certified Crisis intervention officer.
I see myself as a mother, a daughter, a sister and friend, trying to humanize policing, be a part of the change, and bridge the gap between our community and the police department.
I am originally from New Haven born and raised there. Graduated from Hillhouse High School. Attended Eli Whitney RVTS where I received a Practical Nurse diploma. I’ve been a LPN for almost 40 years. I worked in the community as a home care nurse for about 30 years, retired and now I work at a Residential Substance abuse treatment Center. I’ve lived in Hamden for almost 15 years. I’m married to a retired corrections officer I have 2 sons 3 grandchildren. I love living in Hamden and I’d like to be a part of the solution.
Dr. Kristina Veselak, PhD
Assistant Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Gateway Community College
Acting Program Coordinator of Gateway's Criminal Justice Program
Y’Isiah is the Community Services Coordinator for the Town of Hamden. He is responsible for planning, organizing and administering a comprehensive community social services program, which includes referrals for emergency assistance, employment, food, recreation and shelter. He coordinates programs and activities with Town and state agencies, and partnering organizations which assist with assessing the needs of the community. Y’Isiah is also responsible for near-term and long-range planning to address changing social and human services. In this effort, he works closely with Town, state, federal and private organizations in determining program parameters, funding opportunities, and joint efforts to meet individual and community needs.
A Hamden resident for 33 years I am the Filbert Street Block Watch Captain and a Commissioner on the Hamden Commission on Disabilities Rights and Opportunities. Prior to my retirement I was employed for 31 years with the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in leadership positions at DMHAS facilities and in the Commissioner’s Office.
I volunteer at Yale University Office of International Students and Scholars and with the Yale Club of New Haven. As a result of being a proud mother of interracial daughters and my career in mental health, social justice issues are in my DNA. I am excited to participate in the SPCP Council.
Zakiyyah earned an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Gateway Community College and received credit toward her B.S. in Education Administration. She retired as a full time pre-School Head Teacher and assistance to the Director of Young Hearts Daycare in Hamden. Upon retiring, she volunteered for the AARP Experienced Corp and tutored in the Hamden Public Schools. Zakiyyah is a member of the Muhammad Islamic Center and has been since 1959. She serves as the Principal of the Clara Muhammad School (CMS) and Director of the Arabic Language Dept. Zakiyyah works in the Treasury Dept. at the Muhammad Islamic Center and has held this position since 1959.
Zakiyyah was the past Treasurer for CMS Northeast Sectional Committee and Convener for the CMS State Department of Education. She was also the chairperson for the Islamic Parent Teacher Student Committee. Zakiyyah is currently The International League of Muslim Women, Inc. Treasurer for the New England Chapter for 10 years. Member of the Parent-Teacher Student Committee (IPTSC), Chairperson of the Youth Committee and working on The Educational Professionals Group.
Zakiyyah is the wife of the now deceased Dr. Abdul-Majid Karim Hasan who passed in 2019. She is loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Zakiyyah gives Praise and Thanks to Almighty G-d Allah for the family she was blessed to raise in and for the life she has today.
My love for Connecticut started in my undergraduate studies where I went to Wesleyan University in Middletown Connecticut as a major in government and international studies. Since then, I have gotten my JD from Howard University and my MBA from Duke University. I am currently admitted to the Connecticut Bar as a non-practicing attorney. I returned to Connecticut in 2003 and have been living in Hamden for over 10 years.
During my time in Connecticut, I have become a financial services professional with diversified experience in developing creative solutions. I have lived in Hamden for over 10 years with my wife and two sons. My interest in the council stems from having one boy with Down Syndrome in particular.
As a parent of a child who is not consistently verbal, I have a vested interest in ensuring that the police force has the proper exposure and experience to handle him effectively and safely for all parties involved. As an African American, the past year has brought to the surface several social issues the country would benefit from discussing to move forward and become the perfect union we aspire to be.
Medicare Insurance Advocate & Insurance Specialist
30 years – Insurance Field
Married Peter Burke (retired NHFD), 2 daughters
Hamden homeowner – 25 years
SRS – Playground Committee Founder & Chair (4 years)
SRS – Field Day Chair (3 years)
SRS – Tuition Raffle Chair (3 years)
HMS - PTA President – 2 years
Sound School – Fundraising Committee (Annual Butterfly Memorial Release)
Sound School – Rowing Team Parents Group – Founder & Chair (5 years)
HARC – Annual Ball Fundraising Committee
SCVNA & NY Symphony – Picnic in the Park – Fundraising Committee
Hamden PAL – Executive Board Secretary
IACC – Executive Board Vice President (2 years)