Sessions will engage community, help leaders form recommendations

Madison, WI (June 16, 2017) – Dane County leaders are coming together in a groundbreaking effort to establish recommendations on how to build trust between communities of color and law enforcement, especially as it relates to the topic of immigration in our community.

The Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration (LELCC), which is led by NAACP and United Way of Dane County, recently formed the Immigration and Refugee Task Force. The main goal of the task force is to identify key recommendations which will build trust and establish lines of communication between law enforcement and the immigrant and refugee communities in order to reduce fear.

The first step in that process is for the Immigration and Refugee Task Force to hold several community engagement sessions, at various public spaces around Dane County.

“Our community wants safety, strong families, and stable lives free of fear,” United Way President & CEO Renee Moe said. “United Way exists to help our community address its toughest problems, and with NAACP of Dane County, we are happy to be asked to convene this task force to facilitate trust, truth and action.”

“At this time our immigrant and refugee communities are in need of a commitment from diverse sectors in Dane County. With the creation of this Immigration Task Force, community partners, law enforcement, the Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison City, Dane County and United Way have reaffirmed their commitment to the rights of all individuals and the need to strengthen relationships for improved knowledge and understanding,” Karen Menéndez Coller, Executive Director of Centro Hispano stated. “Trust will not be easy at this time in our country – but as a group we are committed to ensuring we are doing our part for moving the rights of immigrants and refugees forward.”

“The NAACP has a longstanding policy against racial profiling and has always strongly supported the rights of immigrants,” added Greg Jones, President of the NAACP of Dane County. “Current Federal immigration enforcement policies are antithetical to the NAACP’s principal objective of removing discriminatory barriers while supporting the democratic process for all. These alarming immigration enforcement policies have negatively impacted the lives and sense of safety and security among individuals and families throughout our immigrant community.”

“I strongly support this Immigration and Refugee Task Force work and I am truly interested to continue hearing from members of our community on the issues impacting them. I have had the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding immigration on a local, regional, state, and national level,” Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said. “I believe that we must work towards comprehensive immigration reform, including an expedited means to citizenship for people living and working in our communities. Nationally and certainly in Dane County, we cannot find success from community policing when a segment of our community live in the shadows as victims of crime, fearing local law enforcement.”

The first of those community engagement sessions will be held as a Q&A session hosted by La Movida Public Radio on Thursday, July 6th from 9 to 11 a.m. at Centro Hispano (810 W Badger Rd. in Madison). Participants can either attend the session in person, call 608-321-1480, or log on to www.lamovidaradio.com to get their questions answered. All are welcome to participate, and translators will be available for non-Spanish speakers.

The second community engagement session is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19th from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Catholic Multicultural Center, located at 1862 Beld St. in Madison.

Subsequent sessions will be scheduled and announced at a later date.

Chief Deputy Jeff Hook of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and Executive Director of Centro Hispano Karen Menéndez Coller co-chair this task force.

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About United Way of Dane County:
United Way of Dane County fights for the education, financial stability, and health of everyone in Dane County.
Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, United Way brings the many voices of Dane County together to find common ground, develop a strategic architecture for change, and make measurable progress, while engaging organizations and individuals with the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to change lives in Dane County.

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About NAACP of Dane County:
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

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About The Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration (LELCC):
The LELCC is made up of leaders of law enforcement agencies and leaders of organizations that represent communities of color across Dane County. The group aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement officers and communities of color.

In the fall of 2014, after several officer-involved fatal shootings across the nation, the NAACP and United Way of Dane County were asked by local law enforcement leaders to facilitate this Collaboration.

Immigration and Refugee Task Force:

 Karen Menéndez Coller | Executive Director, Centro Hispano of Dane County |Co-Chair*
 Jeff Hook | Chief Deputy, Dane County Sheriff’s Office | Co-Chair*
 Ananda Mirilli | Madison Metropolitan School District
 Greg Jones | President, NAACP of Dane County*
 Gloria Reyes | Deputy Mayor to Public Safety, Civil Rights and Community Services
 Charles Tubbs | Director, Dane County Emergency Management
 Jim Wheeler | Captain, City of Madison Police Department*
 Kari Sasso | Assistant Chief, UW Madison Police Department
 Harold Rayford | President, African American Council of Churches*
 Ruben Anthony | President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison*
 Masood Akhtar | Founder/Convener, WE ARE MANY: United Against Hate
 Deedra Atkinson | EVP of Community Impact and Strategy, United Way of Dane County (staff)

* also a member of the LELCC