Volunteers of America Delaware Valley Hosts Delegation of Law Enforcement Officers from Germany in Partnership with Citizen Diplomacy International

Pine Hill, N.J.Volunteers of America Delaware Valley (VOADV) recently hosted Citizen Diplomacy International, Cultural Vistas and a delegation of law enforcement officers from Germany at the Pine Hill Police Department on Wednesday, October 20. The goal of the visit was to bring two world cultures together to learn more about each other, share experiences and explore the topic of community policing, while highlighting how social services and law enforcement can work collaboratively together to better serve residents in local communities.

“At Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, we want to build a bridge to partners around the world – sharing best practicing and learning from different cultures and experiences,” said Daniel L. Lombardo, President/CEO of VOADV. “This visit by the delegation gives us the opportunity to do just that – showcasing our collaborative partnerships with local law enforcement while sharing valuable information about successful models being developed and implemented right here in New Jersey.”

“We are thankful for the very warm welcome and fruitful meeting facilitated by the Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and its CEO, Dan Lombardo,” said Sabine Thalmann, Detective Superintendent and deputy head of the International Affairs staff unit for the Berlin Police. “It is amazing to see the enthusiasm shown by the VOADV representatives trying to improve life for all citizens in their communities. From a German perspective, the Navigator and IMPACT programs are ground-breaking and offer very interesting concepts.”

The delegation of law enforcement officers from Germany are visiting the Philadelphia region through funding by the Federal Republic of Germany and the support of two additional organizations: Citizen Diplomacy International, an organization that connects the international communities with those in Philadelphia and the surrounding region and showcases the region’s best in international business, education and cultural exchanges through one-on-one personal interactions, and Cultural Vistas, an international exchange organization responsible for administrating this program. Both organizations promote mutual respect and understanding of cultures, while striving to create friendly and welcoming environments that encourage open discussion and foster diplomacy.

“Citizen Diplomacy International is thrilled to welcome the Philadelphia and Camden Collaborations Program delegation, bringing together leaders in the police force and civil society organizations from Berlin to meet with their counterparts in the U.S.,” said Siobhan Lyons, CEO of Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia. “During their time here, they will meet with community partners, such as the Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, to exchange on topics that communities in both of our countries continue to grapple with, such as racial profiling and preparing our police to better serve the communities they are in. We thank Volunteers of America Delaware Valley for being an important part of this conversation!”

Cultural Vistas echoes Lyons’ sentiments. “Opportunities like this simply would not be possible without organizations such as Volunteers of American Delaware Valley who have not only made a mission of working towards a better society but are also willing to share their experiences with others,” said Steven Washington, Assistant Program Director at Cultural Vistas.

During the visit by the German delegation of law enforcement officers, VOADV highlighted the organization’s successful IMPACT (Immediate Mobilization of Police Assisted Crisis Teams) Program – designed to bring together law enforcement and social services in order to best reach individuals within local communities in their time of need. In a presentation led by VOADV SVP of Reentry and Navigator Services Amanda Leese and Pine Hill Police Chief Christopher Winters, both explained how the IMPACT Program functions in local police departments – with outreach teams from VOADV working side-by-side with local law enforcement partners in both a planned and rapid-response capacity to provide at-risk populations with access to a variety of social services, including mental health and substance use disorder support, case management services, homelessness and housing support, reentry services and more in a safe environment.

“Pine Hill Police Department is excited to have the opportunity to share best practices in policing our communities in partnership with Volunteers of America Delaware Valley,” said Chief Christopher Winters of Pine Hill Police Department. “Sharing lessons learned through the development of IMPACT while also learning of best practices effectively utilized in Berlin, enhances our ability to better serve our communities throughout Camden County. Being part of such an instrumental conversation is an honor.”

VOADV’s IMPACT Program was initially launched as a pilot program between VOADV and the Pine Hill Police Department in 2019 and has since grown to include formal partnerships and affiliation agreements with 19 local police departments across five counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Gloucester and Mercer) in New Jersey. In early 2021, the IMPACT Program expanded once more to include Mobile Command Centers – mobile units that provide immediate onsite treatment, assessment and a range of social services to individuals in need throughout eight counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem) in New Jersey.

The visit by the German delegation of law enforcement officers also included personal tours of VOADV’s Mobile Command Centers, an exchange of remarks from each organization, a presentation of gifts and concluded with a private luncheon where representatives from VOADV, the German delegation, Citizen Diplomacy International and local police departments participated in a candid, open conversation about community policing – the challenges, personal experiences, the benefits to communities and their residents and more.

For more information on Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and the IMPACT Program, visit: www.voadv.org.

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