Since 2012, Chess and Community's annual youth development conference has featured a segment called Justice Served, an opportunity for Athens police and youth to connect through the game of chess. We believe postive engagement can help both groups breakdown the negative stereotypes perpetuated about one another through the media. Chess and Community students shine at Justice Served using the chess skills they develop throughout the year with the help of our coaches. Rusty police officers meet our students with a level of nervousness, not due to their black skin, but their fierce moves on the chessboard.
Through the 11 years we've hosted Justice Served, we've seen growing calls for police reform across the U.S. Today, youth are constantly faced with tragic images of police brutality on social media that leave many feeling jaded towards policing as a profession. Increasing confidence in police among youth is especially important considering that our youth are the future pool of police applicants. A survey of police departments in 2019 found that nearly 80% of agencies reported struggles with hiring qualified recruits. Half of the agencies said they changed internal policies and qualifications to get more candidates. Justice Served is only the first step of positive police and community cooperation necessary to create a safer and more just society for Athens youth and future generations.