Relationships between police and marginalized communities have a long history of tension in the United States. Research indicates that marginalized communities, especially low-income, minority populations, experience the greatest distrust in police. This distrust is grounded in generations of adverse police experience, such as those experienced during the Civil Rights movement, and are magnified by recent highly publicized shootings of unarmed individuals of color. These events have been associated with heightened trauma in minority communities. Overall, the strained relationships restrict access to resources needed for building community safety and reduce well-being among marginalized populations.
With the support of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Serve & Connect* and the Wandersman Center are seeking to develop and test a model for fostering police and community partnerships that is based on a readiness x relationships framework
*For more about Kassy’s work, see her recent TEDx talk below.
Reaching Across the Community/Police Divide to Let Love Lead
Multi-sectoral collaborations between police, members of the community, and partnering organizations (e.g., nonprofit organizations, schools, etc.) have the potential to foster improvements in community safety, resilience and well-being. Increasingly, national organizations, including the Department of Justice through Community-Oriented Policing Services, and movements such as precision policing, emphasize the critical importance of partnerships in policing. However, few guides exist to support the development of effective partnerships.
In collaboration with Relational Analytics, we are refining and testing an approach to assessing and building police and community readiness for collaboration. The primary focus of this work is on fostering collaborations for youth empowerment in a low income, high crime neighborhood in Columbia, S.C. On November 28th, we kicked off the North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative. The community-based event drew over 35 participants representing over 18 community organizations ranging from the police department, parks and recreation department, nonprofit organizations, schools, faith-based leadership, and politicians. Findings from our event evaluation indicated that the majority of participants felt the event was a worthwhile use of their time and resulted in reflections for guiding future work.
The next step in this effort is to convene a planning committee to inform the design of the assessment plan for gathering information on police and community readiness for collaborating to promote youth empowerment. This will include hosting several community conversations that are modeled off of the kick-off design and seek to harvest community perspectives on challenges and opportunities for collaboration.
In addition to the North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative, we are developing an onboarding assessment tool that will help identify opportunities and challenges for fostering greater collaborations that lead to improved community outcomes.
Serve & Connect is also using the readiness heuristic to support our Greg’s Groceries program which provides police with boxes of nonperishable food to help people who are experiencing hunger. Since July 2018, 1,100 boxes equaling 23,100 meals have been delivered by police to people living in food insecure areas in over 60 zip codes.
For more info, check out their website:
Serve & Connect