How can we heal community-police relationships 

What work is being done to heal the community-police relationship? What role can E&C training play to help foster that collaboration? In this episode of the Principled Podcast, host Katy Brennan, ‪Advisory Thought Leadership & Strategy Lead at LRN, explores what building healthy, scalable, community policing model looks like with Nadine Jones, Co-Founder of The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership and Vice President, Corporate Counsel at Kuehne+Nagel Group. Listen in as the two discuss how The Initiative works to end systemic police violence and heal the relationship between law enforcement and the publicand ultimately build healthier communities.

Intro:   Welcome to the Principled Podcast brought to you by LRN. The Principled Podcast brings together the collective wisdom on ethics, business and compliance, transformative stories of leadership, and inspiring workplace culture. Listen in to discover valuable strategies from our community of business leaders and workplace change-makers.

Katy Brennan:  How many lives? What can we learn about the work being done to heal the community and police relationship? Hello, and welcome to another episode of LRN's Principled Podcast. I'm your host, Katy Brennan, global thought leadership and strategy at LRN. And today I'm joined by Nadine Jones, co-founder and the executive director of The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership. Today we're going to be going deep into the work of The Initiative, and how the organization aims to create lasting partnerships as a means to heal the relationship between law enforcement and the public, and ultimately building healthier communities in the process. Nadine is a seasoned expert in corporate ethics and compliance and serves as vice president for a multi-billion dollar logistics company. As a graduate of Howard University Law School, Nadine has a strong sense of social justice and equity. In June 2020, she co-founded The Initiative to end systemic police violence and implement a collaborative approach to building healthy, scalable community policing models made. Nadine, thank you for coming on the Principled Podcast.

Nadine Jones:  Thank you, Katy. Thank you, LRN for having me.

Katy Brennan:  Nadine, we always start our podcast with a question. So I chose one that I believe is what prompted you to form The Initiative after the murder of George Floyd, now one of the most widely known cases of Black and Brown lives lost to the hands of police violence in the US. Can you take us back to those early days of the founding of your organization, and maybe describe a little bit about your work to those who may not be familiar?

Nadine Jones:  Absolutely. So if you'll recall, what was going on in the country in the summer of 2020, there was obviously a lot going on. Maybe it was building to a crescendo, that might be the wrong word, but certainly, when we saw the killing, the murder, what we now know to be murder of George Floyd, it had reached its peak with us, and by us, I mean the co-founders of The Initiative. So myself and two other women, also Howard Law School alumni, friends, we basically said we need to get into this space. What we were seeing and hearing, the two did not align. So we saw obviously what could only be a lack of humanization of another human being in the viral video of George's death. We saw anger, rage, rightly so, some would say right with the protest that soon followed, but then the remedies of legislation and litigation didn't connect for us, because we saw broken relationships as being at the very root of what was transpiring before our eyes. And so we got into this space for the purpose of building relationships between members of blue and members of black.

Katy Brennan:  Thanks Nadine. And I remember at the time, there was a real sense of urgency back then to do something, to do anything, to do more to end police violence and address racial injustice. I'm just curious now, open question, sitting here today, more than a year since you founded The Initiative, where do you think we are? Either as people, society, communities, organization? Are you feeling like there was some action and the pressure is being taken off the gas, or do you see interest and attention at really solving this issue once and for all accelerating?

Nadine Jones:  Let me go back just a little bit to what you said about the urgency. And that's something to be said for bringing who you are into a space. Not every woman is a mother. Okay. But the three co-founders, myself and the two other co-founders, we are mothers of Black sons in particular. And so the sense of urgency for us was incredibly real and brought us to tears on many, many occasions, and still does, get us on the right day, it still does. So, that was the part of us that was authentic, why we moved into this space. Then your question asked about what's the temperature today? So the temperature back then, right at the gate, we got members of the blue community who wanted to work with us. We were not expecting that. We knew we wanted to collaborate. We know that we had to work with the professionals in this space in order to create something that was sustainable by way of change, something that's meaningful, something that would work, but we didn't expect the ready collaboration from blue. Being Black women from Howard, we just didn't expect that.

That was 2020, that lasted throughout the year. I think it's still somewhat in place, but we are sensing an exhaustion, not just with members of blue, but just all of us. This "post COVID" environment is a little bit crazy, it feels manic. And folks are just really, really tired. And we're starting to see that this issue is losing some of the momentum and the energy that it had a year to date, a year ago. So that is concerning because we haven't lost our sense of urgency about it, not in the least.

Katy Brennan:  And if you don't mind my following up with another question, do you feel that same amount of applying internal pressure to these efforts with your blue partners, the partners from the law enforcement, that have already signed up for this journey with you?

Nadine Jones:  Yeah. The ones who signed up with us, they are, for lack of better phrase, maybe not the right phrase, I was going to say ride or die, but maybe that's not the phrase we want for this kind of topic, but they're with us, arms linked and incredibly loyal and committed to this objective. Other members of the blue community, I have to say a year later, we're finding a little bit more, the openness is closing. So they're retreating into themselves and they feel like they're constantly under attack. Nobody's listening to them. Nobody's seeing them, nobody understands them. They feel like their humanity is not being seen. So you do see that there is a bizarre parallel between members of blue and members of black, where we're both feeling the same thing, but we're feeling it in isolation of one another.

But when you take the time to actually engage and speak and talk and reveal some of your heart to the "other" things open up. So the question is, how do you do that with 18,000 police agencies across the country with millions of communities? There is a way to do it. And I guess we'll talk about that, but we just need to continue the efforts and maybe fund different outreaches in order to penetrate those groups.

Katy Brennan:  Yeah. That's really interesting. I'd love to maybe go a level deeper with you on that, because as you founded The Initiative, it seems as though there could have been a number of different approaches that you took, but you really focused on the humanity, what is the commonality between people at the center, and I'm curious, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about that when I have looked into your organization, I see collaboration and partnership and trust as critical capabilities to bringing these communities together. Can you just talk a little bit about why these are the values at the center of your work?

Nadine Jones:  Yes. We believed then, and still believe now that, that's the only way that we're going to get sustainable change. So it's not like we're just such holy wonderful, just peaceful people. Those might not be the right words, but we believed that the problem that we saw was a lack of humanization and a lack of trust. And so this was the remedy, this was the remedial step that we needed to implement and insert into the space to correct that failure between police and civilian communities. Now, somebody else might look at it and say, no. The only problem is legislation is not working, or qualified immunity has run its course and needs to be overturned by the Supreme Court. They would enter, and are in this space with a completely different viewpoint and different objective, that's not what we recognized as the problem.

Now, it could be our corporate role and experience as ethics and compliance officers. We understand acutely that there can be a gap between objectives on paper and how people carry out and live those principles on a day to day level. And our children, we live at the part of policing where it intersects with how day to day policing is done. So legislation was not something that we saw as an immediate remedial step that could help our community at the local level, because we still need to engage with the foot patrol, with the beat cops. And how are we engaging with them? So we never wavered from it. It continues to be true that if you spend time with people in a positive way, if you're somewhat open, I say somewhat, it can be challenging, but if you reveal some of yourself to them, they will reciprocate in kind. And before you know it, there's at least some building of trust, at least the person is less of an other than they were before that encounter.

Katy Brennan:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). And you mentioned briefly education as being a critical aspect of your work. Can you tell us a little bit about where education fits into your initiative, how that intersects with the focus on values that we've been talking about? Hoping you could talk a little bit about your partnership with LRN related to that, and really what you've been experiencing since you've been rolling out some of your education initiatives.

Nadine Jones:  Let me start with my personal experience, who I am today is not who I started out to be a year prior. And it's because I've had to learn, I had to grow in order to be able to do this work that I'm doing. And by that I mean, just increase my knowledge in terms of brain science and empathy and wellness, and all of these things have come into play in terms of othering, that was not a word that I even knew existed a year ago. So because, I'll speak for myself, I'm goal oriented, I know where I want to be in terms of the organization and our interactions with members of the blue community in particular, I had to dig deep into myself and learn different skillsets, polarity thinking that you can have competing values with merit. I didn't know that, I thought my value is the one with merit. And then the other one, I need to convince the other to understand why my value system is the one with merit. No, not the case.

So these are things and tool sets that I needed to, we as an organization needed to learn in order to go into this space where we've never been before in order to affect change, and to bring people along with us. So in terms of the collaboration with LRN, that was one of our earliest collaborations, one of the first collaborations corporate sponsors that if I could say, we spoke with some members, very senior members, and I'll just say, but we wanted corporate dollars to fund what we wanted to do. I might have shared this story already. And David Greenberg said, "Over the years I've given so much money to charity." He's like, "I don't want to give you money. I want to give you something better." We were just like, oh my gosh, just give us the money, but he was right. He gave us access to LRN and your heart and your expertise and your platform, and just no money could have paid for what LRN delivered.

So we created this mindfulness e-Module with LRN and it's geared toward law enforcement, which some police have actually said, they're pulling away from the words law enforcement because it connotes a certain type of warrior policing, and so they're changing their language, but it's fine. Law enforcement. And this is critical training and education for our members in blue, because it removes the judgment from behaviors. It's showing them what's going on in the brain, with your amygdala and the reptilian brain, and your parasympathetic system needing to calm down, and how do you do that? And then educating them on how to do it.

And it's been really well received because we're not positing that they are defective, quite the contrary. We're telling them and showing them that they are reacting in a way that is wholly consistent with the human design, the human body, the mind. So it helps to deflate judgment when you educate. And we have been more readily received, I think, by blue, because it's almost like a goodwill offering, like we want you well. And we legitimately do. I didn't start the journey that way, I started the journey, I wanted the members in blue to be well so that they can police my Black son better. I didn't even think there was anything wrong with that, because at the end of the day I still wanted them well, but it was for my benefit.

And gradually through different people, speaking to me and having different perspectives, I realized I need them to be well just as another human being to be well. And so you open yourself up a little and folks see that you are legitimate and can receive what you're seeing a little bit easier. So education has been a great way to open the door to each other.

Katy Brennan:  And Nadine, I know we didn't talk about asking this question, but I can't help but ask a follow-up. So having rolled out your initial education around mindfulness, I'm wondering where do you see the next steps as you think about what are the next means of engagement with the police officers that you're working with?

Nadine Jones:  Let's just take a step back. So we're basically telling these police officers, these chiefs, these commissioners, directors, whatever their title might be, leadership, to go into communities and forge relationships. Good luck. So we need to find a way to educate and equip them with tools to be able to do that. So I think the next step is, I'm a huge proponent now of polarity thinking. I think it's a good way if you are in a space that's fractured. So picture a community where you've got blue lives matter and black lives matter, and you're all supposed to just get along. It's easier said than done. And so that to me is an opportunity to equip police to engage with the community outside of enforcement of the law. Another big area, which is akin to mindfulness is resilience. Resilience training, it's indispensable. We all need it, but certainly members of the blue community and the nature of their work, resiliency and how to react and process traumas that they've incurred during their job is powerful.

The only concern I have with that is, it allows police to be introverted, and by introverted I really mean insular. And they retreat into themselves, into the blue, behind the blue wall. And they're doing a lot of great work. I met with the president of a very powerful police union. I could not have done that a year ago, I'll just put that on the record. Drove down, it was in person. And it was an wonderful conversation, 90 minutes. They gave me tea, and that was my concern with them. I said, you're doing great things, but nobody can see, we need you to open up and we need you to engage with us.

So there's this tendency to retreat into themselves that I'm not convinced it's different from anywhere else really. The challenge though with policing is the nature of the job is that you must connect across racial lines, across ideology, across political lines, across gender lines, across socioeconomic lines. You are forced to intersect with so many pockets and segments of society, you actually have to be at a higher level of being able to tolerate that amount of interaction with people who are different from yourself. So I do think it is encouraging, and finding tools to allow them to engage with civilians is paramount priority, if I answered that right.

Katy Brennan:  Yeah, no, definitely. I'm going to bounce around a little bit because I can imagine how difficult it might be to convince someone to engage in that way, there's a lot of parallels too, to trends in business at the moment, and this increasing understanding that in order to be truly successful and sustainable as a business, that organizations need to be good at serving all stakeholders, and really thinking about that, the business community as being a core part of society. And I'm just wondering if you could just share a little bit about your experiences and how you've been able to get organizations and individuals to open up a bit, and to be able to listen to the other. Not always easy.

Nadine Jones:  Not always easy. Yeah. Well, in the corporate world, I have to say we are by far not perfect, but we don't have the luxury of being as insulated against the customers that we service. Even internally in order to produce a widget, you need to interact with different disciplines, different business units, different professions, and develop an ability to converse in another person's language and explain your perspective to them so that you can produce the best goods or services. So there is some resilience there to speaking with others, but we corporate world, we have our challenges as well, in terms of diversity, in terms of inclusion, in terms of equity. And the one thing that connects us is we're all human beings together. We retreat and are comfortable with those who look like us, think like us, believe like us, talk like us.

When I returned to the office post-COVID and it was wonderful seeing everyone, that part, it was just wonderful. And I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues, a white male around the same age, and I used the phrase ride or die. And he said, well, what does that mean? And I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm exhausted just thinking about having to explain that to you. How do you not know what that means? So we want to engage with people who understand our vernacular, our music and so forth. I explained it to him and he's a good friend of mine. So it was fine. So it's just a natural tendency, to retreat and be surrounded by those who are most like US. And why is that, Katy? I'll tell you why, because it's easier.

And what I've learned in this experience is opening yourself up for the possibility of being criticized, the possibility of being judged, the possibility of being rejected, the possibility, which is even worse than all of what I just said, the possibility of somebody saying something that completely offends you, and now you have to process how you're going to react to that. It is exhausting work, but there is no shortcut. There is no shortcut to being human with each other. And I'm a little bit off topic here. So I'm relying on others to edit this appropriately. There will come a time when we will want to draw from a deposit of trust that has been built as a society, but let's just keep it to blue and black for now, or blue and civilians. And when we try to make a withdrawal, there's nothing in there.

And then we go back to the 2020 riots. We go back to literal infernos blazing. We go back deeper into our respective trenches. We go back to distrust now times 10, and anger, hatred, rage, because we haven't taken the time to make those investments of trust, which are exhausting, but I guarantee it feels like a lot, but it doesn't compare to the benefits that can be had in the long term. So, that keeps us going. When we talk with the members of the police in those terms, they understand at a very different level than I would even say, legislators. That it's the local community that makes or breaks their day-to-day interaction. And they understand that they're safer when we see each other as a community, and we are safer when we see them as part of our community. The question is, do we have the energy to actually engage with each other to make those small deposits day-to-day? That's the hard part. So I'm sorry, I don't think I answered your question.

Katy Brennan:  No, it's really fascinating. And I want to ask a follow-up if you don't mind. I have two thoughts. One is, you've talked a little bit about your personal journey over the course of the past year and how you've built these new capabilities that maybe you didn't feel like you had a year ago, around listening and being open and being honest and extending energy to build trust. I'm just wondering if you could maybe talk about that in any way that makes sense to you, either on a personal level, I'm also thinking about the people that are listening to this podcast and know a lot of them will be business folks. And this idea that business is obsessed with scaling things. And how do we get of those behaviors? I don't know if there's a personal lesson that you have, or maybe a real life example where you've seen maybe showing that behavior and then seeing it displayed in return.

Nadine Jones:  Yep. I've got a real world example, as a Black woman, I figured I'm pretty good at diversity and inclusion, I got this, but at the beginning of this initiative, at the beginning of this project, if you want to call it that, I didn't realize how many labels I had in terms of ascribing labels to people. So one of our first collaborators, or who expressed a desire to work with us, was a member from the blue community, an active police chief. He was white, male and from the south. And in a nanosecond, I labeled him. I was pretty much closed except for the fact that he was recommended by somebody who I respected and was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to, and allow him to, at least we couldn't meet. And he consistently, persistently, revealed himself and his character. And I absolutely adore this man.

And so that experience taught me two things. One, it showed me, it exposed myself, my own quick labeling of people. It's like a caricature. I used his gender, his race, his occupation, and his geography, being from the south. And I created a caricature of who I thought he was supposed to be. So, that was the lesson one. I don't do that as much anymore, at least I'm more cognizant when I do it. The second lesson was, if you give somebody an opportunity to show you who they are, they will, and you might be pleasantly surprised. And think about the relationship I would have lost had I not allowed him to show me who he is. That's the second lesson.

The third lesson, and here's the kicker. It is transferable. I mentioned a few minutes ago that I drove down to the headquarters of a big police union to meet with their president and their elite officers and so forth. Okay. I couldn't have done that had I not had at least a seedling, something positive from the blue community that I could transfer in my mind to give them an opportunity to show me who they are. So we don't have to meet, we don't need every police officer to meet every Black person on the planet in order to humanize a Black person, just as an example, I don't need to meet every police officer in the United States in order for me to humanize them as a group. It is the personal narrative for good or for bad actually, but let's talk about it in terms of good. It is the personal narrative that translates into your future interactions.

So, in terms of the corporate world, we have hierarchies, that's how the corporations run. We need opportunities for, let's say, I don't know, the receptionist and the CEO to participate in something together, or have the voice of a woman, I've just recently, I'm working on a committee, a pretty high level committee within my organization, that has traditionally been occupied by men only, not traditionally. I'm the first woman. And my lens is always toward women. I want to see how women are doing in terms of X or Y. Do we track this on a gender basis. And the other C-suite members, or the C-suite members that are on this committee, they're like, that's a great idea.

So that's an example of inclusion, an allyship. They're not purposefully being close to women, they just can't see what I see. That's all. And as a single mom, I'm also acutely aware of women as the head of household and financially, well, that's too much detail, but look, the point is that we need these opportunities to interact with each other so that we can see the world through a different lens. And you know what? It might actually be a good idea, it might actually be worth doing. So it's not limited to policing, the corporate world, we have work to do as well. We're just a little bit more nimble, I think, at it traditionally.

Katy Brennan:  Thanks. And you mentioned earlier, and you just talked a little bit about how your approach at The Initiative was forged through your experience in the corporate world. And it sounds like, you're continuing to experience things both at The Initiative and in your day to day role in the business community that might be shaping the other experience in some way. You're a seasoned ethics compliance officer. Can you talk a little bit about how the work at The Initiative has given you perspective of the work of ethics compliance, or perhaps vice versa?

Nadine Jones:  The ethics and compliance work is what influenced our approach at The Initiative, first and foremost. Regular folks, most people want to do the right thing once they know what the right thing is, and how to do it. And in the ethics and compliance world, you can preach, teach, however you want to call it, at the end of the day, folks want to understand, what does this have to do with me? And how does it affect the work that I need to do? If you can assure them that there was a benefit to themselves by doing the right thing, and that they're still going to be able to do their jobs effectively, then most folks are okay, well, now what? Now, tell me how do I do the right thing now that I see that there's a benefit to me, and I see that it's not going to impede my ability to do my work?

So we took that approach into policing, that's why we did it collaboratively. We don't know anything about policing. You know what I mean? It's like me as a compliance officer and I'm trying to educate, think of the computer engineers about whatever you want to, price fixing or something like that. I don't know anything about what they do. I have got to engage with them and find out what they do. And then I can interject and see, oh, okay, this is a pocket of risk for you. Here's what you can do. So that's part of the reason why we did that with The Initiative. So you're going to reform, let's forget about policing. We're going to reform how healthcare is delivered and you don't engage with a doctor, a nurse, a technician, an HMO, how's that going to work? You got to bring in all the stakeholders that understand this field. Obviously you're going to bring in the voice of the patient as well, but all of the stakeholders in this little system has to be engaged.

So that is something that we do well in the corporate world, better than other industries, other professions. And we certainly infused that in our approach with The Initiative, and we still do. In terms of what The Initiative and working in that space has done for me in the corporate world, two things, which I didn't see coming. One, they're very relational, very in the blue community, they like in person, they want to meet with you in person. They want to engage with you, I'll get like random texts like Sunday, Hey, how you doing? Just very, very relational, which I think can be lacking in the corporate world. So it has reminded me about the power of relationships. So I have taken that with me.

The second thing that The Initiative has taught in the, and I've now taken back with me into the corporate world, is the power of my voice. It doesn't have to sound like anyone, and I don't have to see the world like everyone else around me in order for my voice to have power. And working in a heavily male space for the past year with The Initiative in the policing space, male, very power military, many of the police officers that we engage with are former Marines and former Rangers, jumping out of airplanes and stuff, that's the world that they are in. And you have organizations, community based organizations, or like the ACLU, NAACT. They've been in here for 200 years. Where are these three women from Howard going with their voice in this space? How dare you? It's already been said, everything that needs to be said has been said, that's not true.

So it has shown me the power of being who you are and taking up space, and I've, I can't seem to abandon that, I'm bringing that into the corporate world, we'll see how it turns out, but once you see it, you can't really unsee it, and you just have to be authentic to your voice once you found it in a way.

Katy Brennan:  And last question, Nadine, what's giving you hope that sustained and meaningful is really possible?

Nadine Jones:  I believe that as human beings, that if we engage as human beings, we are good at it. Okay. No one is dispensable. We are all connected. When I see what's going on in terms of COVID and vaccines and all of that, I see the culmination of possibly decades of mistrust of government that has now reached a head. Okay. And now we need everyone to fall in line, so to speak, so we can all be safe and healthy. And the folks that have had a mistrust of government for many, many, many years, generations, are saying, not so fast.

So none of us are in isolation from each other. And now we want to pull on our, the trust bank account with the rest of the nation, there's nothing to pull from. There's nothing in there. So to bring it back into the world of policing and just society, if we make the investments, they'll pay off, that's all. We just have to find a structure to create opportunities for us to engage with each other in a positive way. And that's really what The Initiative's doing with the blue and Black and White and Asian and Latino and all other communities. That's all we're doing is creating some infrastructure to allow for those interactions. Once we do it, human nature kicks in. It's almost inevitable. Trust will be built if we do it right. That's what gives me hope.

Katy Brennan:  Amazing. Thank you. And then Nadine, the one thing I guess I wanted to ask you, is there anything I didn't ask you that you want to make sure that I ask you, or anything you want to say that maybe didn't come up naturally in the conversation?

Nadine Jones:  I was thinking, how can it benefit LRN? It sets something really powerful. It speaks to values, I think, when a company like LRN invests, not just money, but their human resources. And let me tell you, the caliber of individuals that we interacted with, LRN gave us their best. So I'm not taking anything away from corporations that, okay, they saw the George Floyd video. They're like, okay, we're going to give 10 million here. We're going to give 50 million there. We pledge this to the United Negro Fund. I'm not mad at any of that. I think that's great. But when a company says, we want to bring you in and we're going to link arms with you, and we're going to produce something together to change the world, it's so much harder than money.

So David Greenberg was actually right. It's so much better than money. So I know there's no corporation that's a hundred percent perfect, but if nothing else, take that away from LRN, that they put their, better than their money where their mouth is, try to really make a difference in a meaningful way. So I will forever salute LRN for that seriously.

Katy Brennan:  Nadine Jones, it has been really great having you on the podcast. And I hope you'll come back and come back again and speak with us soon. My name is Katy Brennan, I want to thank all of you for tuning in to LRN's Principled Podcast.

Outro:  We hope you enjoyed this episode. The Principled Podcast is brought to you by LRN. At LRN, our mission is to inspire principled performance in global organizations, by helping them foster winning ethical cultures rooted in sustainable values. Please visit us at to learn more. And if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And don't forget to leave us a review.


Episode Cover - Nadine


Nadine Jones

Nadine Jones is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and a seasoned Vice President of a multibillion global logistics company. She is a collaborative leader, solutions-oriented, and has expertise in developing and maintaining a corporate ethics & compliance program for a multi-billion logistics company. As a graduate of Howard University School of Law, Nadine also has a strong sense of social justice and equity. In June 2020, she co-founded along with two other Howard Law alumni an organization called The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership (“The Initiative”). The Initiative was established to end systemic police violence and implement a collaborative approach to building healthy, scalable, community policing models. 

Episode Cover - Katy



Katy leads thought leadership for LRN, having spent more than 15 years at the intersection of business’ responsibility to society. Katy is responsible for the development of a thought leadership agenda and roadmap and manages alliances with key stakeholders for LRN.  She also co-leads LRN’s Living HOW Council, a cross-functional group of diverse voices across the company who ensure LRN’s philosophy, values and Leadership Framework help inform and guide all aspects of our business. 

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