Race and Policing
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This research report documents the training, policy development, and reconciliation activities of the six cities that took part in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, an effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. We found that the training component of the Initiative, which exposed officers to concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias, was implemented as intended and was well received by officers. In addition, the reconciliation framework used to improve relationships between police and communities was powerful and impactful, leading police departments to make changes to their policies to build trust and institutionalize improvements to practices. We also observed that local contexts affected the implementation process, with factors such as police leadership stability and the dynamics underlying relations between police, political leadership, and the community facilitating or impeding progress.
This report examines the degree to which activities associated with the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice – a six-city effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members – yielded their intended impacts on crime rates, departmental practices, and police-community interactions. Analyses of administrative data indicated that the impacts of the interventions varied considerably by site – as did the availability and richness of sites' data. Changes in calls for service, violent crimes, and property crimes were mixed across sites. Two of the cities observed deceases in the amount of use of force incidents, but there was no reduction in the racial disparity of those events. While rates of pedestrian and traffic stops generally declined after the start of the National Initiative's primary activities, they ultimately returned to previous levels. In addition, arrest rates declined across sites, but no differences emerged in arrest rates by racial or ethnic characteristics. Site-specific findings and their association with National Initiative activities are discussed in detail.
This brief examines the fractured relationship between residents in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods and the police that serve those communities. Based on surveys of people living in and police officers serving in four Chicago police districts on the city's south and west sides collected as part of the evaluation of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, these data demonstrate ambivalence between the police and residents. Community members do not generally perceive the police as acting in a procedurally fair manner and do not support their work; this perception is particularly high among people with recent arrest histories in co-offending networks. Police officers do not believe the community trusts them, and officers express little confidence or trust in those living in the districts they police. However, residents are generally willing to cooperate with the police on crime control efforts.
Much of the national debate on policing in 2015 has rested on a false premise—that community demands for greater police accountability come at the expense of effectively addressing crime. In fact, police need accountability and legitimacy in the communities they serve if they are to deliver safety. While policing is a local governmental function, federal policymakers have an important role to play in helping policing practice reflect this truth. The next president will have a wide range of funding, agenda setting, and enforcement tools that can elevate and spread the best in policing and compel reform where necessary.