Over the next couple months, Philly.com will host Mouthful, a podcast that features dramatic monologues highlighting the experiences and perspectives of young Philadelphians. These monologues, which are performed by professional actors, are produced by Philly Young Playwrights and Yvonne Latty, director of the Reporting the Nation program at NYU's Carter Journalism Institute.
When Autumn Angelettie was given an assignment in her creative writing class to write a monologue about something that has been on her mind recently, she chose to write about community policing.
For Dubois Stewart, a young African American man, the latter sentiment flashed through his mind when he was stopped and frisked by the police for the first time recently. "I was terrified" he said. "I seriously thought I wouldn't go away unharmed."
Dubois' mother, Vashti, knew this day would come. "We practiced," she said, in order to avoid what could have happened. "It could've gone badly. It could've gone really badly. For no reason."
The ongoing trauma has negative effects for communities and families on both sides of the badge.
For law enforcement officers, like Michael J. Chitwood, Superintendent of the Upper Darby Police, the pursuit of public safety is about working in the community to build relationships, trust, and familiarity. So when something goes fatally wrong, it's a setback.
"Everybody deserves the opportunity to educate their children to sit down on their step to walk their dog and to enjoy life," Chitwood says. "And that's what our goal is. And I think sometimes we do it. But it's a constant, continual being out there, being present, being a part of the community."
All of this and more on this week's episode of Mouthful.