On June 18th, 2020, Chief Thomas Johnson held a press conference to announce a series of initiatives and reforms for the City of Dover Police Department. One of the key initiatives was the development of the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee. During a study of management and operations of the Dover Police Department by the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), it was stated that the “CPSM recommends that the chief establish a chief’s advisory group. This group would be made up of community stakeholders such as local clergy, business leaders, school administrators, community advocates, etc., who would meet with the chief perhaps on a quarterly basis to informally discuss community needs and police-community relations.” During this announcement, Chief Johnson stated that the committee would consist of nine community stakeholders that represent a cross-section of Dover’s diverse population with the goal that the board would offer informed and constructive criticism to promote the delivery of equal and quality professional services from the Dover Police Department.
In early September, the Dover Police Department finalized the first Police Chief’s Advisory Committee with the initial meeting scheduled for September 30th, 2020.
Chief Thomas Johnson added the following statement regarding the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee: “This is truly an exciting time for the Dover Police Department as we continue down the path toward being an illustration of best practices in Law Enforcement. The best standards in any agency will always be produced through professional collaboration. The Chief’s Advisory Committee will be a critical piece of that collaboration as we begin an ambitious period of planning and training. I believe that we have convened a wonderful group of energetic individuals that represent a solid cross-section of the Dover community. They share a passion for the health and safety of this historic City as well as the strength to contribute to thoughtful discussion on challenging topics. I can’t thank them enough for stepping up at such a critical time.”
UPDATE: On September 22nd, 2020, Mr. Greg Bunkley submitted his resignation from the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee stating he did not feel he could commit the time to the program due to being involved in other programs and endeavors. A ninth member will be named at a later time.
Dr. Chanda Jackson-Short
Dr. Chanda Jackson-Short, a native of Dover, Delaware, earned her Doctor of Social Work degree from Capella University in August 2013. Dr. Jackson-Short graduated from Dover High School and completed her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Social Work degree from Delaware State University. She serves as President of the Capital School Board and as a board member for the nonprofit organizations, HELP Initiative, Inc., Dover Police Athletic League, Delaware Center for Justice, and Hope Medical Clinic. Dr. Jackson-Short also serves on the grants committee for Delaware Community Foundation, a member of the Kent County Ecumenical Committee, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance Social Action Committee, and other committees committed to positive community impact.
In 2019 Dr. Jackson-Short graduated from Leadership Delaware, a program that recruits outstanding young Delawareans and prepares them with the knowledge, vision, integrity, and networks to significantly impact and transform their communities; and to excel at community, nonprofit, political, professional, and corporate leadership within the First State. Dr. Jackson-Short has continued her leadership role in the community as she knows first-hand about rebuilding economically distressed, but culturally rich neighborhoods. Working for the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund, Inc., Dr. Jackson-Short works under the program, “Restoring Central Dover.” Leading community engagement in and beyond the Downtown Development District, supporting grassroots organizations, and volunteering in the community, Dr. Jackson-Short is passionate about change in her city and state. She works along-side residents and various stakeholders faithfully to transform a blighted and underserved community in Dover. By building innovative cross-sector partnerships, Dr. Jackson-Short was the lead coordinator for Lights on Dover Strong and Open Streets Dover.
Other areas of volunteerism include participating in the Community Response Team to address the current opioid pandemic, leading a care package distribution for residents in the Central Dover area, planning events and activities for youth and families, a volunteer judge for MLK Voice 4 Youth, and she also participated in the Mayor’s Taskforce to End Homelessness. Dr. Chanda Jackson-Short is committed to serving others and the community with her time, talents, and abilities.
When asked what her goals as a committee member were, Dr. Jackson-Short stated “When the Chief shared the committee idea with me, I was elated that he was looking to implement something that will help to bridge the community/police divide and told him that I would help in whatever capacity I can assist. I agreed to be on the committee because now more than ever, we need to work towards making some positive changes and building unity together.”
Schatze Sykes is a proud resident of Delaware for 44+ years. Ms. Sykes is a mother of 2 boys, a three-time Award-Winning Author, Early Childhood Teacher, Entrepreneur and an advocate against gun violence.
Her passion for serving others is reflected in her former role as the Executive Director of the ML Ware Foundation, which focused on the reduction of Gun Violence and Youth Conflict Resolution and through her five years of volunteerism with the Food Bank of Delaware’s Mobile Food Pantry by providing meals for over 600 families.
Having lost a son to gun violence, Ms. Sykes said, “I see the ugliness of police brutality that persist in our society, but I have seen a side of law enforcement that provides empathy, compassion and justice” and she hopes to bring her experience and perspective to the Chief’s Advisory Board.
As a member of the Chief’s Advisory Board, Ms. Sykes will act as a liaison for police-community relations, to help bridge the gap, build public trust with the Dover community and to help build communications to address the myriad of issues that plague black communities. As a member of the Board, her goal is to help develop recommendations for advancing police reform and the application of equal protection for all under law by reforming department policies, procedures, training, and programs.
She believes a community connected is a community protected.
Reverend Carol E. Harris
Reverend Carol E. Harris is a 16 year resident of Dover, Delaware and is the Chief of Chaplaincy Services and Pastoral Care at Bayhealth Medical Center. Reverend Harris is also the Senior Pastor of The Well Church (formerly known as The Ecclesia Family Worship Center) in Dover, and is the Founder and Director of The Vines Community Project (Kent County’s Coalition for Substance Abuse Education and Prevention).
Reverend Harris is well known throughout the City of Dover for her volunteerism and community service. She is a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), The Lt. Governor’s Faith Based Initiative, the NAACP Religious Affairs Committee, Senate Chaplain for the State of Delaware, and a board member for North Node, a Substance Abuse agency.
Reverend Harris provided the following statement about her involvement with the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee: “Daily I invest my heart in this city, our county and our state. I believe my presence and involvement in the community has given me an invaluable purview of happenings and has also allowed me to foster meaningful relationships in significant places. I believe those relationships and my love for our city will make me a great addition to the PCAC. The peace and partnership between the police and the people and citizens of our community is critical to our stabilization and ultimate development. I’d like to not only see that happen, but to be a contributor in bringing it to fruition. I am committed to the strength of community. I have come to know that when communities come together committed to the growth and development of all of its citizens it becomes and unstoppable force. I believe Dover to be such a community and I am honored to do my part in aiding in her strength, growth and development.”
Victor Ginagrant has been a Dover area resident since 1973. Mr. Giangrant is the owner and operator of Westside Carwash, a family owned and operated business since 1981. Mr. Giangrant is also a State of Delaware licensed Master Plumber and Electrician. As owner of the Westside Carwash, Mr. Giangrant will share policing concerns that impact the business community. Mr. Giangrant is also well-known for providing job opportunities and support for his diverse team, including prior offenders. Mr. Giangrant stated he is looking forward to working with the committee and having meaningful dialogue for the benefit of the entire Dover community.
Courtney Ford relocated to Delaware in October of 2013. She currently works as the Practice Manager at Growing Bones Orthopaedic Institute dedicated to expanding orthopaedic care to all children and individuals in Central and Southern Delaware.
In her previous experience as the Aquatic Director for the Dover YMCA she worked to foster healthy community relationships with diverse groups of people of all ages. Courtney has engaged primarily with Kent county youth and teens through partnerships with City of Dover, Delaware Special Olympics, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware State University and Autism Delaware, most notably, she also supported the work and initiatives of the Dover Police PAL (Police Athletic League). She continues to work as a youth swimming coach upholding and instilling the YMCA values (Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility). She’s eager to serve on the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee in order to identify reasonable and realistic solutions to serve our citizens and promote harmony in our communities.
Calvin London is a 17-year-old, lifelong Dover resident currently in his senior year at Delaware State University’s Early College High School. Calvin serves as the operations field manager for a major 2020 political campaign and a member of the junior branch of the NAACP.
Calvin expressed the following regarding his participation in the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee: “I feel that it is appropriate to have a youthful voice in discussions that affect our community. It is imperative to have that perspective, so that young people feel that their concerns are being heard. It is an honor and privilege to serve as that voice; a responsibility that I will not take lightly. It has been my experience to see little interaction with the police officers outside of a law enforcement role. It would be great to see community engagement such as pop-up basketball games, community bike rides, the return of programs such as D.A.R.E in schools, and more.”
“We, as a nation, are experiencing difficult times where police relations to the communities they serve have been called into question. I believe the fact that Chief Johnson has taken this initiative speaks volumes to his commitment to our community.”
Matthew McNeil has lived in the Dover area since 2012. He is a supervisor at the Dover Air Force Base Cafeteria and pursues photography as a side-business and hobby. In addition to his career, Mr. McNeil is a facilitator of substance abuse group programs, a motivational speaker for troubled youth and adult offenders, and a part-time radio host for Mount Carmel International Church (MCI) Ministry Radio.
Mr. McNeil stated that he is looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee with a goal of being a helpful voice for the Dover community. Mr. McNeil’s goal on the committee is to improve youth services and outreach and learn more about local shelter facilities and correction facilities to improve and educate others on services available to them.
Imam Arqum Rashid
Imam Arqum Rashid had lived in Dover for three years, relocating from Newark, Delaware. Imam Rashid serves as the Imam and Resident Scholar at the Islamic Society of Central Delaware, which is the only mosque in Dover and the largest in the State of Delaware. A recent law school graduate, Imam Rashid also serves as a volunteer Muslim chaplain at the Stevenson House (juvenile detention center), serves on various interfaith groups, and is the President and Director of Riwaq Institute, an educational non-profit organization.
Imam Rashin provided the following statement expressing his enthusiasm for being a part of the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee: “Given the country’s current climate, it is essential to build relationships between the community and the institutions created to serve and protect those communities. This initiative is a commendable step towards fostering trust, stability, and understanding between the people of Dover. I am eager to be a part of this and will do my best to contribute to a better community in any way that I can.”
UPDATE: On September 22nd, 2020, Mr. Greg Bunkley submitted his resignation from the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee stating he did not feel he could commit the time to the program due to being involved in other programs and endeavors. A ninth member will be named at a later time. A previous version of the below photo showed Mr. Bunkley.