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Students and Faculty Work Together on Apopka Violence Prevention Community Task Force

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B-CU Shows the Importance of Violence Prevention in the Community

Students and faculty came together for a 90-day initiative to address violence in low-socio-economic communities. The task force was a culmination of school officials, law enforcement officers, students, and faith-based organizations spearheaded by Commissioner Bryan Nelson, Pastors Hezekiah Bradford, Richard King and Rod Love. B-CU Criminal Justice Administrator of Graduate Programs, Dr. Randy Nelson aided in the process of including B-CU students. “The students are a part of the CURE Research Program (Interdisciplinary Juvenile Justice Delinquency Research Project) that I coordinated with other faculty from counseling psychology and STEM related fields. The students examined factors impacting juvenile delinquency and recidivism. I saw the Apopka Violence Prevention Task Force work as an opportunity to apply our research to real life situations and conditions,” Nelson said.

Each week the consortium met to breakdown issues and implement strategies to conduct change throughout the community, more specifically Apopka, Florida. Students participated in the planning of meetings, voiced their views on current tragedies in their communities and helped to conduct presentations that would improve the relationship between community and law enforcement. According to The Apopka Voice, “The Apopka Community Task Force on Violence is committed to community engagement as a continuous vehicle to open dialogue and further develop meaningful relationships between the community and the Apopka Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Office,” said Task Force Co-Chair Rod Love. “If we sit back and wait until the next crisis to hit and think that we have done enough to develop mutual trust, we would only be fooling ourselves.” 

Listening sessions and breakout workshops were conducted to bring solutions to problems that were addressed in the strategic meetings. Dr. Nelson facilitated whole group discussions for the task force and the final address on the group’s research and community based needs moving forward.

As Dr. Nelson reflected on the action taken during the task force initiative, he mentioned, “I think the students and Apopka community members walked away with a more enlightened perspective of the factors that influence or contribute to crime and violence in disadvantaged communities. The students were able to see committed individuals from the community come to care, not only to discuss the community's problems, but also viable solutions. The community, including some B-CU graduates, were able to see our students confidently facilitate three (3) community forums in a manner that represented themselves and the university well.”

For more information on Interdisciplinary Juvenile Justice Delinquency Research Project, please contact Dr. Randy Nelson- nelsonr@cookman.edu or 386-481-2734.  

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.