In this transdisciplinary course, students team up to build trust and bridge divides between the Long Beach Police Department and diverse communities it serves. Students participate in Police Academy training tours, ride-alongs and immerse themselves in community issues to design a visually compelling, technology-infused awareness campaign to help boost LBPD officer recruitment, innovative policing and community engagement. The final projects will be considered for implementation by the LBPD and the City of Long Beach.
ArtCenter: How would you describe this course to a potential student?
Tyrone Drake: It’s a course unlike the classes I’ve taught before. It’s a transdisciplinary, team-based studio with the goal of everyone working toward one main objective, which for this client is driving officer recruitment and community engagement.
We interviewed people who live, work and study in Long Beach about their experience with the police department and used their answers to shape our project.Serda UrsanAdvertising
AC: How did you end up partnering with the LBPD for this course?
TD: I taught a Designmatters course in collaboration with the City of Long Beach Health Services to promote awareness around safe sex practices. Because of the success of that project, the Long Beach Police Department wanted to partner with us to see if we could design a solution for their problem of recruitment and community relations.
AC: What are some of the assignments and materials you’ve incorporated into the curriculum that you hope will encourage and provoke students to challenge themselves and break new ground creatively?
TD: I believe that research is the most important part of the design process, so I created a “cultural immersion” assignment. Students go out into the community and ask how residents feel about the LAPD, and if they have suggestions to improve relations between the department and the community. This not only gives students unfiltered, real-time feedback, it helps students establish relationships with residents and lets citizens have a voice in the ultimate solution.
AC: What were some of the most interesting or surprising materials students designed during the course?
TD: We’re still in the creative development stage, but students have come up with interesting concepts around apps. This new line of communication can feel more open and less authoritative. We’re also looking at various forms of pop-ups and events to bring the police and community together in a positive setting. The idea is to remove some of the stigma around police officers; they’re not all bad. We want residents to see them as human beings.
AC: What are some of the most important concepts and ideas you hope students take away from the experience?
TD: The power of design and what an influential tool it can be. Whether you’re designing for a Fortune 500 company or local social-related issues, I hope students realize how much of an impact they have on society through design.