Race and Policing
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Body cameras are rapidly becoming the norm in communities across the country. Campaign Zero reviewed available police department body camera policies from the largest 30 cities in America to determine whether this new technology is being implemented in ways that ensure accountability and fairness while protecting communities from surveillance.
Rarely has a police technology been adopted as rapidly as body-worn cameras (BWCs) have in the past ten years. Thereare a host of reasons why body cameras became popular, including increasing internal accountability, enhancingtransparency, facilitating investigations of citizen complaints, as well as its uses for officer safety training.In January of 2020, the National Police Foundation (NPF), in partnership with Arnold Ventures, co-sponsored a one-dayconference, "Police Body-Worn Cameras: What Have We Learned Over Ten Years of Deployment?" This forum explored what we have learned about body cameras— both through scientific research and law enforcement practice—in the years since their deployment, as well as considerations for future implementation. The conference featured presentations by prominent researchers in the field and discussions with police executives based on their experience with body camera programs in their agencies.
While we were finalizing the policy recommendations in this report, our country began battling an unprecedented health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has shined a spotlight on the size of America's incarcerated and justice-involved population, illuminating both the extreme vulnerability of those held behind bars and how our prison population impacts our broader communities. This public health emergency has required politicians and those who manage our criminal justice systems to rapidly reevaluate how many of those who are incarcerated can be safely released, how police andprosecutors can best serve their communities, and how to safely reduce the size of the justice system overall.Even before the outbreak, the United States stood at a crossroads on criminal justice reform. While some of our leaders have continued to use fear of crime to advocate for policy, many advocates, policymakers, and law enforcement officials from all parts of the country — and across the political spectrum — have realized that certain tough-on-crime policies of the 1990s and 2000s led to unintended consequences, such as the unnecessary incarceration of thousands, high rates of recidivism, and decreased confidence in law enforcement. Ultimately, these challenges risk making our communities, including our law enforcement and correctional officers, less safe.
The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) conducted a two-pronged study to investigate the costs and benefits of BWCs in more detail. The first phase involved a nationally representative survey of law enforcement agencies to document the extent of BWC adoption, the costs of implementation, and agency policies on how BWCs are used. The second phase involved collecting information on civil lawsuits against police agencies, in order to determine whether the presence of BWCs might tend to improve the behavior of officers and community members, and thereby reduce the likelihood oflawsuits. If BWCs can result in fewer lawsuits and payouts, an investment in BWCs theoretically might "pay for itself" partially or entirely.
We are at a moment in time when we are collectively rethinking how society treats children. A big piece of this work is harm reduction—stemming the tide of the huge numbers of youth that have been flowing into our justice systems, and the significant overrepresentation of youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ/gender nonconforming youth.Equally important is reorienting society's approach to view issues of youth behavior and welfare through a public health lens instead of a punitive lens—looking at how can we unlock the potential of our youth rather than focusing on locking them up. When society supports youth and provides them with resources needed for positive youth development, such as good health care, housing, education, healthy food, and nurturing relationships, we are setting them on a path for success. However, when policing is heavily concentrated in marginalized communities, leading to frequent stop andfrisks of young people, then we are sending them down a different path—one in which future contacts with police and arrests are more likely.
The Executive Session on Reimagining the Role of the Prosecutor in the Community (Executive Session), hosted by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (IIP), is guiding high-level culture change in the field of prosecution. Through a series of facilitated convenings and conversations spanning three years, the Executive Session brings together the foremost experts in the field of prosecution – elected prosecutors, legal professionals, scholars, policy experts, and individuals directly impacted by the justice system.The collaborative research and engagement that informs the Executive Session enables a thorough dive into some of the most complex topics facing prosecutors and their communities: reimagining the role of the prosecutor in a democratic society; producing public safety while reducing harms created by the criminal justice system; and addressing the legacy of racial inequality and structural injustice, to name a few. In order to disseminate these conversations into the field, Executive Session members partner to undertake research and author papers, with an eye towards developing innovative responses. The papers are based on the opinions of the authors, available research, and insight from Executive Session members. While the papers do not represent a consensus of all members, theyhave been informed by critical engagement and collaborative discussion amongst members. The expertise and diversity of members provide a nuanced lens to some of the most pressing topics in the field of prosecution, and to the criminal justice system overall.The Executive Session and the papers emerging from it are intended to uplift the evolving role of prosecutors and their power to facilitate the creation of an increasingly equitable and effective American criminal justice system.
The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (IIP) convened a year-long examination of police use-of-force. Comprised of 50 experts from across the country – individuals who have lost loved ones to police violence; prosecutors; police chiefs; policy experts; academics; and advocates – the Working Group on Officer-Involved Fatalities and Critical Incidents (Working Group) convened around the shared goals of preventing useof-force, and providing a path to accountability for unjustified force.The Working Group brought together stakeholders from all sides of this issue. The diversity of the working group allowed for an honest reckoning of the factors that contribute to use-of-force and to limited accountability, and a careful examination of previously neglected nuances that can help to reduce and address these tragedies. Since its first convening, held in February 2018, the Working Group has provided a platform for directly impacted family members, prosecutors, and police chiefs to share their stories, learn from each other's experiences, and work together to build a more just system.Working Group members collaborated over the past year to identify action for prosecutors to take and communities to advocate for in order to reach these shared goals. Their collaboration culminated in a Toolkit for Prosecutors and Communities, by Prosecutors and Communities (the Toolkit). The Toolkit draws on the insight of Working Group members as well as existing data and research in order to provide actionable and adaptable steps for prosecutors and communities to prevent and address officer-involved fatalities and other critical incidents in their local jurisdictions.While there is no shortage of research or reports about officer-involved critical incidents, there has yet to be a guidebook that offers tangible steps for prosecutors and communities to take. This Toolkit addresses this gap.
While there are clear benefits to strengthening relationships between police and immigrant communities, many departments may be unsure of where to start. This publication outlines a set of programmatic recommendations based on multicultural outreach programs in agencies from various geographic regions, jurisdiction sizes, and levels of available resources. The purpose of this report is to help agencies establish successful outreach and engagement programs, or to improve existing initiatives.
Law enforcement agencies around the country are attempting to improve relations with the communities they serve—particularly communities of color. One solution agencies are trying is to offer training courses to their sworn staff. Yet the effects of these courses are unclear.SPARQ had the opportunity to evaluate one promising training: Principled Policing—a daylong course that consists of five modules that aim to improve public and police safety by building trust between them. The first four modules focus on procedural justice, and the fifth focuses on implicit bias. Understanding how implicit bias works could help swornstaff more readily apply procedural justice principles in the field.To evaluate Principled Policing, SPARQ collected and analyzed survey data from 135 course graduates— police executives and law enforcement officials at a variety of ranks—before and after they received the training.
From 2012-2015, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), in partnership with the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and justice officials in the City of Minneapolis conducted an exploratory study of the concepts of procedural justice and legitimacy in policing in a practical, realworld setting.The lessons learned from this initiative have created the foundation for a national model for police and other justice system partners to build community relationships while reducing crime. This report includes many of the important lessons learned during the course of the project and provides the information needed for other communities toimplement a similar model of collaborative policing and justice.
In the wake of high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, Baltimore, and elsewhere, law enforcement agencies across the country have rapidly adopted body-worn cameras for their officers. One of the main selling points for these cameras is their potential to provide transparency into some police interactions, and to help protect civil rights, especially in heavily policed communities of color.But accountability is not automatic. Whether these cameras make police more accountable — or simply intensifies police surveillance of communities — depends on how the cameras and footage are used. That's why The Leadership Conference, together with a broad coalition of civil rights, privacy, and media rights groups, developed shared Civil Rights Principles on body-worn Cameras. Our principles emphasize that "[w]ithout carefully crafted policy safeguards in place, there is a real risk that these new devices could become instruments of injustice, rather than tools for accountability."This scorecard evaluates the body-worn camera policies currently in place in major police departments across the country. Our goal is to highlight promising approaches that some departments are taking, and to identify opportunities where departments could improve their policies.
Our research has revealed that many police departments are failing to adopt adequate safeguards to ensure that constitutional rights are protected. In particular, we have discovered that year after year, the vast majority of the nation's leading police departments with body-worn camera programs allow unrestricted footage review – meaning, officers are permitted to review footage from body-worn cameras whenever they'd like, including before writing their incident reports or making statements.This report seeks to illuminate the ways that unrestricted footage review places civil rights at risk and undermines the goals of transparency and accountability. We urge police departments to instead adopt what we call "clean reporting," a simple two-step process where an initial report is recorded based only on an officer's independent recollection of an event and then a second, supplemental report can be added to a case file to address any clarifications after footage is reviewed. We make the case that in the interests of consistency, fairness, transparency and accountability, clean reporting should be adopted as a standard practice for all police departments with body-worn camera programs.