Nine named to Dover Police Chief’s Advisory Committee

Members of the Police Chiefs Advisory Committee include, top row from left, Dr. Chandra Jackson-Short, Victor Giangrant and Schatze Sykes; middle row, Calvin London, Imam Arquen Rashid and The Rev. Carol E. Harris; bottom row, Matthew McNeil, Courtney Ford and Gregg Bunkley. (Submitted photo/Dover Police Department)

DOVER — On Monday, the Dover Police Department announced the nine-member Police Chief’s Advisory Committee designed to enhance law enforcement’s relationship with the community.

The committee members “were chosen based on established relationships the department has, as well as recommendations from the community,” spokesman Sgt. Mark Hoffman said.

Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson plans to switch board members on a predetermined schedule “to ensure that fresh voices are being brought in regularly,” according to a news release. The length of term for members is to be determined.

Mayor Robin R. Christiansen, who oversees the police department, saluted the committee members as the “unsung heroes” as well as other volunteers who support city interests with their time.

“We want to hear from them whether we’re doing a bad job, a good job and moreover how we can engage the community to make our city a better, safer place to live,” the mayor said.

The committee’s formation comes as part of Chief Johnson’s push for a series of departmental initiatives and reforms announced on June 18.

The committee was created during a study of management and operations of Dover police by the Center for Public Safety Management .

According to Chief Johnson, “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.”

Committee members are:

Dr. Chanda Jackson-Short

A Dover native, Dr. Jackson-Short 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.

Dr. Jackson-Short 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. She 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 young Delawareans and prepares them to transform their communities; and to excel at community, nonprofit, political, professional, and corporate leadership within the First State.

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 grass-roots organizations, and volunteering in the community, Dr. Jackson-Short is passionate about change in her city and state.

Dr. Jackson-Short works along-side residents and various stakeholders to transform a blighted and underserved community in Dover. By building 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 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 Task Force to End Homelessness.

“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,” Dr. Jackson-Short said.

“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

Schatze Sykes is a resident of Delaware for more than 44 years. Ms. Sykes is a mother of two 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 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 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.

The Rev. Carol E. Harris

The Rev. Harris is a 16-year resident of Dover and is the chief of chaplaincy services and pastoral care at Bayhealth Medical Center. The Rev. 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).

She is a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, 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.

Of joining the committee, the Rev. Harris said “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 Giangrant

Mr. Giangrant has been a Dover-area resident since 1973. He owns and operates 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.

Courtney Ford

Ms. Ford relocated to Delaware in October of 2013. She works as the practice manager at Growing Bones Orthopaedic Institute.

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. Ms. Ford 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).

Calvin London

Mr. London is a 17-year-old, lifelong Dover resident in his senior year at Delaware State University’s Early College High School. He serves as the operations field manager for a major 2020 political campaign and a member of the junior branch of the NAACP.

Of his participation, Mr. London said “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

Mr. 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 Ministry Radio.

His 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 Rashid had lived in Dover for three years, relocating from Newark. He 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 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 nonprofit organization.

Imam Rashin said, “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.”

Gregg Bunkley

Mr. Bunkley has been a Dover resident since 1979. He is a 1980 Dover High School graduate and has attended Arizona State University, Delaware State University, and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services from Springfield College.

Mr. Bunkley served as an original member of Dover’s Human Relations Commission, serving as vice president for two years. He also served on the Blue Ribbon Commission to address homelessness in the city of Dover and was then appointed to serve on the Homelessness Task Force.

Mr. Bunkley was also the chair of the Community Engagement Committee for the Central Delaware Branch of the NAACP, vice president of the Central Delaware Pan-Hellenic Council, and as the Social Actions chair for the Psi Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Currently, Mr. Bunkley is an active member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance’s (IMA) Social Action Committee and Restoring Central Delaware’s Community Engagement Committee. He has also worked directly with the Dover Police Department for community outreach events such as National Night Out and Safe Trick-or-Treat.

“It is my hope to provide the police department and the police chief with a community’s perspective with respect to crime, safety, neighborhood issues and how the Police Department can better integrate with the community we serve and improve our services,” he said.

“It is my hope that together we can foster a safe community environment made possible by a strong, positive and trusting relationships between the citizens of Dover and the Dover Police Department.”