While racial profiling, stories of excessive force and most recently, the shooting of an unarmed black man in Cincinnati, Ohio have eroded confidence in police departments across the country, a new report released by PolicyLink, in partnership with the Advancement Project, has sparked hope in communities across the country. The Black Community Crusade for Children, the Center for Civic Character and Cincinnati Community Action Now (Cincinnati CAN), the commission established in response to the recent unrest, have invited the authors of the report to present their research and explore application for Cincinnati.
The report, "Community-Centered Policing: A Force For Change," a resource being distributed to communities nationwide provides numerous examples - from collaboration with community advocates to actively seeking community input on police recruitment and rewarding police/community involvement. "For too long, communities of color have been forced to choose between unsafe neighborhoods and overly aggressive policing," said Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of over 185 national civil rights organizations. "The PolicyLink /Advancement Project report has shattered the old paradigm and clearly charts a new and positive direction for community/police relations."
Jerry Sanders, former Chief of the San Diego Police Department, applauds the report's illustration of positive alternatives: "Positive things that honest, hard-working officers are doing seldom get much attention. This report details good work across the country and shows how more can be done."
"Too often, policing is something done to communities, not with communities," said Maya Harris West, principal author of the report and a Senior Associate at PolicyLink. "Across the nation, communities are saying it's time for a change. The response of both community advocates and police to this report shows that change is not only necessary, but possible."
"The report demonstrates that we do not have to make an impossible choice between unsafe communities and abusive police practices," said Penda Hair, Co-Director of the Advancement Project. "There is a common-sense middle ground and forward-thinking law enforcement agencies are developing creative, community-centered solutions to bridge the growing chasm between the police and the communities they are entrusted to protect and serve."
The research details efforts by local communities and police departments in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York, Miami, San Diego, Chicago, Memphis, Houston, Albuquerque and Pittsburgh among other areas, to make neighborhoods safer, strengthen and maintain positive community ties, build trust and establish long-standing collaborative relationships.
Ronald E. Hampton, Executive Director of the National Black Police Association, emphasizes: "Law enforcement is not the only role police officers play in communities. We have an important role to play in building community. We need to work with communities, not against them. This report shows the way."
The report does not praise any law enforcement agency as the perfect model. Instead, it illustrates the broad array of promising practices when combined, lead to measurable and sustained improvement in policing.
The full report and summary document are available on the PolicyLink website: http://www.policylink.org/publications.html