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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                Media Contact
Embrace PR
San Diego Police Chief & San Diego Police Officers Association Assist with Creation of Behavioral Psychology-Based model
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (December 20, 2016) – On Monday, December 12, 2016, nonprofit organization Embrace launched their much anticipated Game Changer program that utilizes sports to create safe space for dialogue and understanding between police officers and lay members of the community.   Almost 2 years in the making, Game Changer is a response to the many instances of often-preventable violence between law enforcement and members of communities of color around the nation.  The model is rooted in behavioral psychology aimed to educate while increasing understanding, familiarity, comfort and a greater sense of human connection through time spent communicating during the focus group and socializing at a sporting event to bring about changes in perception, leading to changes in behavior, leading to a greater number of peaceful outcomes. 
Plain clothed officers & community members during focus group & SDSU Men’s Basketball game
Top photo by: Tony Zaragoza
A diverse group of 7 lay members of the community and 7 San Diego Police officers met at KPBS television station 3 hours before the San Diego State University Men’s Basketball team took on Alabama State University at Viejas Arena to participate in a moderated focus group to discuss causes and solutions to violent and/or fatal interactions involving law enforcement.  All participants attended the basketball game following time spent together during the focus group that was civil, animated, and, at times, tense. All participants filled out pre and post surveys that measured changes in perceptions before and after the event. Cal State Fullerton will process survey data and provide a comprehensive report. 
San Diego Police Chief explains the birth & purpose of Game Changer
Gina Tang, artist and mother of 3 had this to offer after the event: “The impact of sitting in a circle, as an equal, beside law enforcement officers having open dialogue around shared concern for an issue, is such that today, when I saw a police car in the street beside me, my conditioned low-level anxiety response had disappeared.  Game Changer is definitely on to something here.”

To donate to Embrace click here

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and San Diego Police Officers Association President Brian Marvel were on hand to deliver opening remarks.  San Diego Christian College Psychology Department Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Stanton (PhD in Clinical Psychology, 15 years of Group Process experience) and San Diego Fire Department Captain Jason Shanley (31 years of Group Process experience) co-moderated the 2.5-hour focus group.  San Diego State University Office of Diversity and Kappa Sigma fraternity were fiscal sponsors. Uber sponsored round trip transportation for all participants while Chipotle and Starbucks were food and beverage sponsors.  
Lay members of the community and plain clothed police officers at the first Game Changer event
Photo by: Tony Zaragoza
The most surreal portion of the model may well have been after the focus group concluded when participants spent time with one another at the Aztecs men’s basketball game.  Participants who may have previously been at odds with one another, spent the better part of two hours socializing during the game, taking selfies and making plans to continue communicating beyond the event. 
San Diego Police Sgt. Richard Cox flanked by SDSU Professor Crystal English and entrepreneur Ken Kuczwaj
Photo by: Tony Zaragoza
“This is a start of real and honest conversations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  I would love to continue to be a part of this group.  It was a great experience and I know the next event will be even greater,” offered San Diego Police Officer Akaan Thomas.
Future Game Changer events will occur in 2017.
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit

About Embrace

Founded in 2000, Embrace uses community service to bring diverse groups of people together to bring about social wellness in our society. The organization focuses on the utilization of college students and recent graduates to develop their leadership qualities and remedy community problems such as health disparities and homelessness on a volunteer basis. Founder Sean Sheppard's ultimate goal is to bring about legislation that makes community service mandatory for all college students that attend state funded institutions of higher education.
For more information on Embrace, visit

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