Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing

June 1, 2015

A toolkit for organizers, elected officials, and community members seeking to enact local law enforcement policy reforms. The report outlines fifteen reforms in five areas -- ending mass criminalization, safe and just police interactions, community control, independent oversight, and improving police practices -- ranging from the application of a racial impact tool for all criminal justice legislation and bans on bias-based policing, to the use of body cameras and special or independent prosecutors, to improved training for police officers. The report also provides resources and questions for those working to develop campaigns around specific policy reforms as well as community-based alternatives to policing.

Reform Strategies

Turning Back the Tide: Promising Efforts to Demilitarize Police Departments

April 1, 2015

A company of police officers in riot gear with raised automatic weapons advance upon a solitary Black man with his hands up—one of the most chilling and memorable images to come out of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, last fall. The world was shocked to see local police officers in full body armor, rolling down the streets of a small suburban town in armored trucks, throwing tear gas canisters and stun grenades into crowds of peaceful protestors.When did our police begin to resemble an invading military force? When did protests in the United States start warranting a military-like response?Ferguson was a wake-up call that hastened numerous civil liberties organizations to speak out against police militarization—state and local police departments across the country amassing huge arsenals of military weapons, aided by federal programs that transfer weapons used in Iraq and Afghanistan, or issue grants to purchase them.The widespread militarization of policing—hostile, authoritarian, and too often, violent— represents the antithesis of community-centered policing and a marked transformation in the very nature of policing: Are police working to protect or control communities? Does a military response to non-violent protest increase community safety? Who are the police protecting when they use military equipment and tactics against communities?The first two briefs in our Beyond Confrontation series advanced local programs and practices that exemplify police-community partnerships and agreements. Militarization, however, is a unique issue, fueled by an underregulated and overlooked federal policy that has flooded local communities with military weapons and equipment. Turning Back the Tide: Promising Efforts to Demilitarize Police Departments, the third brief in our series, explores the stark landscape of pervasive police militarization, and lifts up early examples of communities fighting to reverse the tide of militarization at the local level and restore a focus on community to local and state police departments.

Use of Force

Engaging Communities as Partners: Strategies for Problem Solving

December 1, 2014

Developing meaningful police-community partnerships may seem implausible, especially in the current climate of raw pain and impassioned protest. But there are examples from across the country where communities and police have begun demonstrating how to collaborate and build working relationships that increase safety, decrease arrests and police violence, and improve the well-being of community members. Engaging Communities as Partners, the second brief in our series, lifts up many of these promising practices.

Reform Strategies

Limiting Police Use of Force: Promising Community-Centered Strategies

October 1, 2014

This brief is offered as a tool to communities to help them better understand what standards guide the use of police force, how that force is applied across the country, and what strategies exist to minimize such acts of aggression. It is one of a series that will explore steps that can be taken to improve how police officers relate to the communities they serve.

Reform Strategies; Use of Force

Community-Centered Policing: A Force for Change

October 17, 2001

Fair, equitable, and community-centered policing is fundamental to a democratic society. Yet, for too many, this remains a promise unrealized. While the nation has enjoyed plummeting crime rates, America's assault on crime over the past decade has exacted a high price—more often than not, a price paid by communities of color.Guided by our core missions to advance economic and social equity through policies and strategies informed by the voices and experiences of local communities, PolicyLink and the Advancement Project conducted research aimedat bridging the gap between the promise of fair and responsive policing and the reality experienced by many neighborhoods. In this report, we highlight some of the promising, community-centered police practices being implemented throughout the country—practices that are opening police departments to traditionally underrepresented communities; engaging communities as partners in solving neighborhood problems; and making police departments more accountable to the communities they serve and protect.

Reform Strategies