Vera developed a field-informed guidebook series to advise law enforcement agencies on how to fill the knowledge and practice gap in effectively policing and building trust with the diverse communities they serve. This three book series—written for police, by police—was developed to help police officers use community policing strategies to build trust and foster positive relationships. The guidebooks—known as Police Perspectives: Building Trust in a Diverse Nation—come at a time when many law enforcement agencies are, more so than ever, seeking ways to meaningfully engage with communities of color, as well as youth, immigrant, and transgender communities, among others.
The Police Perspectives series, developed with support from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) and Community Relations Service (CRS), offers concrete strategies from officers in the field on how to police effectively and build trust with diverse communities. Most of the contributors to this series are law enforcement officers of color who, due to personal and professional experiences, often have an especially nuanced and intimate understanding of the nature of community mistrust among communities of color, as well as what is needed to overcome it. The descriptions of programs and practices, together with multiple tips detailed in this guidebook series, are intended to be a resource for officers of all levels—from the patrol officer interacting with a specific racial or ethnic community to the police chief seeking to transform his or her agency into one that embodies community policing and facilitates community trust building at all levels.
In developing the guidebook, Vera partnered with a number of law enforcement agencies, as well as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA), the New Jersey Asian American Law Enforcement Officers Association (NJAALEOA), and other law enforcement organizations.
This series is divided into three guides, covering the following topics:
1) How to Increase Cultural Awareness recognizes that police officers may be unfamiliar with some of the communities they are responsible for keeping safe. Residents of these communities may have public safety needs and challenges that are difficult for police to understand. In order for officers to acquire the knowledge necessary to effectively perform their duties and build trust among community members, it is essential that they make an effort to understand the community’s history, diversity, and concerns. This guide provides a brief historical perspective of policing, tips on community-informed policing and maximizing collaboration with communities of color, strategies for how best to build trust during contentious incidents, and information on trauma and community-informed policing strategies.
2) How to Serve Diverse Groups offers specialized approaches that can be helpful in reaching groups that have unique public safety needs, are highly vulnerable, or have historically been harmed by law enforcement. This guide details tips and information about how to reach many of these populations, including youth, immigrants and refugees, and transgender individuals.
3) How to Support Trust Building in Your Agency is a resource for agency leadership who recognize that building trust is essential to effectively carrying out their public service duties, but who also know that moving from policy to practice can be challenging. This guide orients police officials seeking to integrate a community policing philosophy into their work, build institutional capacity and knowledge, and ensure their agency is representative of the diverse communities they serve.
Why is building police-community trust important to law enforcement?
Law enforcement agencies understand that positive relationships with all community members are vital to reducing violence and improving quality of life, yet many agencies struggle with engaging and building trust with communities of color. This guidebook series provides targeted, practical information written for police by police, and will add to a growing body of research and literature on many topics related to building police-community trust.
For more information about this project, please contact Caitlin Gokey.