Race and Policing
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First and foremost, this is the "people's report." What do we mean by that? Our primary audience for this report is the people of the St. Louis region. The report is directed to the average citizens whose daily lives are affected by the issues we explored, and whose lives will be impacted by the calls to action we make. With that in mind, we have written this report to speak to an audience of average citizens— not lawyers, legislators, academics, politicians, or policy wonks. We've written this report in plain language as much as possible. We've avoided jargon when we could, and tried to explain the jargon we used when we couldn't avoid it. Our goal is to present this important information in a way that anyone can understand. We recognize and have heard citizen feedback that official documents produced by commissions like ours can be written in a way that is hard for the average citizen to understand, and a chore to read. It will take the application of public pressure to ensure that we push forward, and not just ease back into the status quo. We have tried to make this report readable and interesting. If it's interesting and easy to read, you're more likely to read more of it—and we want you to read it. The more this report is read, the stronger the actions toward implementation will be. If we hide important ideas behind stuffy language, or bury key information, we would be disrespectful to the people who invested their time and energy into the work, and worse, we would be diminishing the importance of what we were charged to do. That said, as you go deeper into the report platform, you may notice that the information does get more dense and complicated. While our focus is on speaking to the people, we also know that this platform must be detailed and specific enough to be useful in directly impacting policy decisions. We have tried to keep these sections clear and readable, while meeting the needs of multiple audiences
In the summer of 2014, Better Together initiated discussions with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to conduct a study of the state of policing in the City and County of St. Louis. The August 9, 2014, fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson, and the civil unrest that ensued, gave new urgency to this initiative. In September 2014, Better Together and PERF entered into an agreement to conduct this examination and issue a report with recommendations. PERF is an independent research organization, based in Washington, DC, that focuses on critical issues in policing. PERF identifies best policies and practices on fundamental issues, such as strategies to minimize police use of force; developing community policing and increasing public perceptions of legitimacy and procedural justice in policing; new technologies for improving police accountability, such as body-worn cameras; and civil rights and racial issues in policing. The purpose of the study is two-fold: 1. To examine how policing services are currently being delivered in St. Louis County/City, assess the state of police-community relations, and compare the status quo with best practices in the policing profession. 2. To provide recommendations for moving forward, including identifying policing models and operational options to improve policing in the region.