First Friday Forum: Community-Driven Alternatives to Calling Police

Recorded On: 12/04/2020

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Please join us for our December First Friday Forum on alternatives to calling 911 for people with acute needs, as well as community based supports for people who do not want to call the police to address safety issues. 

Our panelists will include a civilian first responder, a mental health expert, and a leader in restorative justice practices. We will discuss these issues from both an equity perspective and how to achieve better outcomes for all members of the community.


Ira Burnim

Legal Director, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Ira A. Burnim is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, who joined the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law legal staff in 1988 and became the legal director in 1989. Formerly, Burnim served as legal director of the Children’s Defense Fund, senior attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and law clerk to the Hon. Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Burnim is a member of the executive committee of the Disability Rights Bar Association. He is recognized for his expertise in policy and legal issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, community mental health care, Medicaid, and children’s issues. He consults with federal agencies, state policy makers, and advocates. Working with Disability Rights International and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, he has advised advocates and policy makers in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Albania, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and Japan.

Melissa McKee

Peer Navigator, Familiar Faces Program, Olympia Police Department

Melissa McKee is a formerly incarcerated member of the City of Olympia’s innovative approach to systems-level change in policing. As a Peer Navigator, Melissa draws upon her personal experience with substance use and mental health challenges, and within the criminal justice system, in serving those currently impacted within her community. 

Additionally, Melissa is in her final year of undergraduate studies at the Evergreen State College. In her scarce free time, Melissa can be found with her three dogs, Harper, Ernie and Odis.

Larell Smith-Bacon

Executive Director, Restorative Response Baltimore

As Executive Director, Larell is the driving force behind Restorative Response Baltimore. With over ten years’ experience at RRB, she is a community conferencing facilitator, restorative justice trainer, and works with staff and volunteers to develop and hone their facilitation skills. Larell has initiated team-building strategies and instituted practices that emphasize a cohesive, caring mindset in the workplace. She facilitates our semi-annual facilitator and refresher trainings, as well as the on-going quarterly skill-building workshops for the statewide facilitator network. Larell also lends support in facilitating restorative practices trainings, outreach efforts, and dialogue circle facilitation.

Tenille Patterson

Executive Partner, Pretrial Justice Institute

As the vice president of mission support services, Tenille Patterson is responsible for and oversees the activities and processes that provide core mission support to PJI. Tenille's accounting career began 16 years ago when she worked as an auditor for the global professional services firm PwC. To align her professional aspirations with her spirit of advocacy and social justice, Tenille transitioned into the nonprofit field, working with and for organizations serving the most underserved and disenfranchised.

In her most recent nonprofit leadership experience, Tenille served as chief operating officer of the Center for Urban Families, a human services organization dedicated to supporting fathers and families suffering from the effects of systemic and institutional inequality. Tenille has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Morgan State University and is a certified public accountant.