Dover Police Chief carries out promise of advisory committee, nine members to meet Sept. 30
The Dover Police Department has selected nine community members to establish the first chief’s advisory committee. The initial meeting is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Forming the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee was one of several initiatives and reforms that Chief Thomas Johnson introduced during a press conference June 18. He said the goal of the group is to offer informed and constructive criticism to promote the delivery of equal and quality professional services from the Dover Police Department.
The department finalized the committee in early September. Members include Chanda Jackson-Short, Schatze Sykes, the Rev. Carol E. Harris, Victor Ginagrant, Courtney Ford, Calvin London, Matthew McNeil, Imam Arqum Rashid and Gregg Bunkley.
“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,” Johnson said.
“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," he said. "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.”
More about the members
Chanda Jackson-Short, a native of Dover, earned her doctorate in social work from Capella University in August 2013. She graduated from Dover High School and completed her Bachelor of Science and Master of Social Work from Delaware State University.
She is president of the Capital School Board and is a board member for the nonprofit organizations HELP Initiative, Dover Police Athletic League, Delaware Center for Justice and Hope Medical Clinic. She is 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, Jackson-Short graduated from Leadership Delaware, a program that recruits outstanding young Delawareans and prepares them with the knowledge, vision, integrity and networks to significantly impact and transform their communities; and to excel at community, nonprofit, political, professional and corporate leadership within the state.
Jackson-Short has continued her leadership role in the community as she knows first-hand about rebuilding economically distressed, but culturally rich neighborhoods. Working for the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund, Jackson-Short works under the program, “Restoring Central Dover.” Leading community engagement in and beyond the Downtown Development District, supporting grassroots organizations, and volunteering in the community, she is passionate about change in her city and state. She works alongside residents and various stakeholders to transform a blighted and underserved community in Dover. She was the lead coordinator for Lights on Dover Strong and Open Streets Dover.
She has volunteered with the Community Response Team to address the opioid pandemic, led a care package distribution for residents in the Central Dover area, planned events and activities for youth and families, volunteered as a judge for MLK Voice 4 Youth and participated in the Mayor’s Taskforce to End Homelessness.
When asked about her goals as a committee member Jackson-Short said, “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. 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 is a proud resident of Delaware for more than 44 years. 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. For five years, she volunteered with the Food Bank of Delaware’s Mobile Food Pantry by providing meals for more than 600 families.
Having lost a son to gun violence, 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.” She said she hopes to bring her experience and perspective to the committee.
On the advisory committee, 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 of issues that Black communities face. She said 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.
She believes a community connected is a community protected.
Carol E. Harris
The Rev. Carol E. Harris is a 16-year resident of Dover and is the chief of chaplaincy services and pastoral care at Bayhealth Medical Center. Harris is 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).
Harris is well known throughout the city for her volunteerism and community service. 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.
“Daily I invest my heart in this city, our county and our state,” Harris said. “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 an 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 Ginagrant has been a Dover-area resident since 1973. Giangrant is the owner and operator of Westside Carwash, a family-owned and operated business since 1981. Giangrant is also a Delaware-licensed master plumber and electrician. He will share policing concerns that impact the business community. He is well-known for providing job opportunities and support for his diverse team, including prior offenders. Giangrant said he is looking forward to working with the committee and having meaningful dialogue for the benefit of the entire Dover community.
Courtney Ford relocated to Delaware in October of 2013. She currently works as the practice manager at Growing Bones Orthopaedic Institute, dedicated to expanding orthopaedic care to all children and individuals in Central and Southern Delaware.
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. Courtney has worked with Kent County youth and teens through partnerships with the city, Delaware Special Olympics, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware State University, Autism Delaware and the Dover Police PAL. She continues to work as a youth swimming coach upholding and instilling the YMCA values (caring, honesty, respect and responsibility). She said she is eager to serve on the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee to identify reasonable and realistic solutions to serve our citizens and promote harmony in our communities.
Calvin London is a 17-year-old, lifelong Dover resident in his senior year at Delaware State University’s Early College High School. London is the operations field manager for a major 2020 political campaign and a member of the junior branch of the NAACP.
“I feel that it is appropriate to have a youthful voice in discussions that affect our community,” London said. “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,” he said.
Matthew 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. Beyond his career, 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.
McNeil said he is looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of the committee with a goal of being a helpful voice for the Dover community. He said he hopes 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 Arqum Rashid has lived in Dover for three years, relocating from Newark. Rashid 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, Rashid is a volunteer Muslim chaplain at the Stevenson House (juvenile detention center), on various interfaith groups and the president and director of Riwaq Institute, an educational nonprofit organization.
Rashid expressed his enthusiasm for being a part of the committee. “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,” Rashid said. “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 has been a Dover resident since 1979 and is well-known throughout Dover due to his involvement in many community organizations and events.
Bunkley is a 1980 graduate of Dover High School and has attended Arizona State University, Delaware State University, and earned his Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Springfield College. He was an original member of Dover’s Human Relations Commission, serving as vice president for two years. He was on the Blue-Ribbon Commission to address homelessness in Dover and was then appointed to serve on the Homelessness Task Force.
Bunkley was 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 the social actions chair for the Psi Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
He is an active member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance’s Social Action Committee and Restoring Central Delaware’s Community Engagement Committee. He has 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,” Bunkley said. “It is my hope that together we can foster a safe community environment made possible by a strong, positive and trusting [relationship] between the citizens of Dover and the Dover Police Department.”