Terence Williams grew up in East New York, Brooklyn. Five years ago, Williams joined the New York Police Department, and on December 8 Officer Williams will graduate from the Red Hook Justice Center’s Peacemaking program. The Peacemaking program adapts Native American conflict resolution strategies to New York City court cases within the Justice Center’s catchment area – police precincts 72, 76, and 78. It is the first such program in the country, and Officer Williams is among the first police officers to receive the training.
“We like Peacemaking because we’re not looked at solely as police officers. We’re looked at as human beings,” said Officer Williams during a November interview. “We want to do Peacemaking because we believe that it will be an alternative way to solve issues within the community – as opposed to doing things the traditional way, where if you do something wrong, we take you to jail. Maybe you can talk it out, let’s try that first.” Amanda Berman is the Project Director at the Red HookJustice Center (RHJC). Berman started her career as a public defender in the Bronx, but gradually moved away from direct practice towards exploring alternatives to incarceration and reform of the criminal justice system. She came to the RHJC in 2015, and is excited about the officers’ engagement in Peacemaking. “They’ll have more tools and options available than just ‘arrest or walk away,’” said Berman. “They’ve been a great resource for us but we are also providing a resource for them.”