Newsletter from Edwin Rutsch and the Empathy Center.
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Mutual Empathy is the Key to Bridging Our Social Divides
Dear Friends.

The many social divides in the world keep widening and we are in desperate need of empathic connection, understanding and action. It does feel bleak and hopeless at times.

The current election in the USA shows how competition for power leads to a deepening lack of empathy and connection on all sides. Instead of debates, where candidates verbally fight it out and the media acts as fight promoters, I'd love to see all parties take part in Empathy Circles where they would deeply listen to each other. I would like to invite Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as, their supporters to a facilitated Restorative Empathy Circle.  Call me!

While getting the presidential candidates to take part in an Empathy Circle may be a long shot, one project that has bipartisan support and we are developing, is empathic dialogue between the police, Black Lives Matter activists and communities.  See below for more on this and I hope you will support this effort.

Edwin Rutsch
Director, Center For Building a Culture of Empathy

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Richmond police chief: 'All lives matter. That's really what community policing should be about.'

When Chris Magnus first moved to Richmond, Calif., in 2006, he would hear gunshots at night, sometimes very close to his house. That would be disturbing to anyone, but it was especially so to Magnus, as he had just been hired to be Richmond's new chief of police....

The term “community policing” has become such a buzz phrase that “Pretty much every department, if you ask them, would say they're doing community policing,” says Magnus, “And I think most believe it. But the challenge is: is community policing really policing the community in the way that the community wants to be policed, or is it driven by the police department?”

Magnus' approach has been to build partnerships with the community at every opportunity, learning from the residents what their priorities are, in order to define where resources should go.

by Brad Marshland

The way law enforcement deals with the mentally ill has come under scrutiny following a spate of officer-involved shootings across the nation. But Hulse said news reports miss the success stories between law enforcement and the public they protect.

"We handle literally hundreds and hundreds of cases where everything went right and we de-escalated the individual and nobody got hurt," Hulse said.

Hulse said the training he administers to his officers is what stops crises and protects the public. But beyond that, he said empathy with people struggling is the real key to solving these issues.

Hulse hosts a voluntary crisis intervention training every year in April. He said a number of officers participate in the 40-hour training innovated by the Memphis Police Department.

The training, called the "Memphis Method" focuses on empathy with those having a mental health crisis.

Chad Posick, Georgia Southern University

My associates and I have reviewed recent research and done some additional analyses to pin down what is currently known about empathy – and perceptions of empathy – in the realm of crime and justice. When other factors, like age, sex, race, education, and income are taken into account, empathy turns out to matter in several ways:

Empathetic people are less likely to engage in delinquency or crime. But those who have trouble perceiving how others feel, and have difficulty sharing those feelings, are more likely to engage in wrongful acts – everything from minor juvenile delinquency to the most serious of violent crimes.
Empathy affects how people think about crime and punishment in complex ways. People capable of empathy tend to support tough punishments for crime, but at the same time they are less likely to call for the harshest punishments, such as the death penalty.
Empathy and perceptions of empathy help to shape the interactions of police and members of the communities they are assigned to protect. Research on citizen interactions with the police has consistently indicated that the way officers behave determines how they are evaluated by people with whom they interact. When we probe in detail, it turns out community members have more positive evaluations of the police when officers communicate that they understand the issues that matter to community members. Studies specifically show that the police are more likely to be trusted and considered effective at their jobs when they display empathy with the community’s concerns.
"Victim empathy work helps them to acknowledge that it is real people that they have harmed. Empathy engenders a sense of shared experience, and an identification with and understanding of the other person's situation, feelings and motives. Empathy has the potential to profoundly change our interactions with one another."

Pete Wallis is the senior practitioner in restorative justice for Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service. He has facilitated hundreds of restorative meetings and written or co-authored several books and articles on the subject including,
Understanding Restorative Justice: How Empathy Can Close the Gap Created by Crime and
What Have I Done?: A Victim Empathy Programme for Young People.

In 2011 he set up a charity to support young crime victims, and he is a consultant for the new Restorative Services Quality Mark.
Empathy Services & Consulting by Edwin Rutsch
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