The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice is designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. It also aims to advance the public and scholarly understandings of the issues contributing to those relationships.
1) What is the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice?
The National Initiative is a partnership between the Department of Justice and criminal justice experts from John Jay College, Yale Law School, UCLA, and the Urban Institute. It is a multi-faceted approach to build and restore trust between law enforcement (and parts of the criminal justice system) and the communities they serve. The National Initiative focuses on three key concepts: enhancing procedural justice, reducing bias, and promoting reconciliation. Through this work the National Initiative will test and implement strategies in pilot sites, conduct new research, and provide practical information for practitioners and the public.
2) Who is the National Initiative team?
Amy Crawford is the interim Project Director. The principal partners are David Kennedy from the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College, Tracey Meares and Tom Tyler from Yale Law School, Philip Atiba Goff from the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, and Dr. Nancy La Vigne of the Urban Institute.
3) What is the National Initiative Clearinghouse?
The online resource, found at trustandjustice.org houses the latest research, tools, best practices and case studies on implicit bias, procedural justice and racial reconciliation. The clearinghouse is a dynamic “self-service” resource that will provide law enforcement practitioners, community leaders, media, and the general public with the latest developments on these issues. As research and practice expands, the site will also grow to capture those advances.
4) What is the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice?
The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice is designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. It also aims to advance the public and scholarly understandings of the issues contributing to those relationships. In September 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice has awarded the National Network for Safe Communities, through John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a three-year, $4.75 million grant to launch a National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. The National Initiative is directed by Professor David Kennedy, Amy Crawford is the project manager, and John Jay College President Jeremy Travis, Professor Tracey Meares and Professor Tom Tyler of Yale Law School, Professor Phillip Atiba Goff of UCLA, and Dr. Nancy La Vigne and Dr. Jocelyn Fontaine of the Urban Institute are principal partners.
5) What is the OJP Diagnostic Center Training and Technical Assistance resource?
In addition to the support provided to pilot sites, the National Initiative will also make training and technical assistance available to communities not formally affiliated with this project. Through the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Diagnostic Center, police departments and community groups can request training and technical assistance on implicit bias, procedural justice, and racial reconciliation. The Diagnostic Center will work with the requestor to develop a customized plan which may include training, peer mentoring, expert consultation and other types of assistance. More information can be found both at the clearinghouse website and on the Diagnostic Center website. Interested cities may also send a request for Diagnostic Center assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-657-0411.
6) What was the selection process and the criteria considered in selecting the pilot sites?
The National Initiative team considered a list of factors, such as geographic diversity, jurisdiction size, ethnic and religious composition, and population density. The team also considered each site’s willingness and capacity to engage in the three-pronged approach of the National Initiative (procedural justice, reducing bias, racial reconciliation), history of social tensions, level of violence, economic conditions, police department size, and historical strategies for addressing procedural fairness, implicit bias, and racial reconciliation at the local level. Through this process, the team gained insight into the potential for measurable gains within sites and which sites include the special subpopulations on which the National Initiative will focus (LGBTQI, youth, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Latino, and one neighborhood per site that will implement targeted youth violence and/or gang reduction strategies).
7) Does being selected as a pilot site mean the city has serious issues with its police department or race problems in the community?
It is not the purpose of the National Initiative to seek out and address the most problematic communities. The issues facing the selected sites are not unique. The nation as a whole has a troubled history of race relations and, in communities of color, perceptions of the fairness of the police and broader justice system are particularly poor. The focus of this initiative is to repair the fractious relationship between legal authorities, particularly the police, and communities by building community trust and enhancing the practices and public perceptions of justice.
8) Which leaders from the sites have committed to the initiative?
The key commitments to the initiative came from each site’s police department as well as the mayor or city manager’s office. The Department also encouraged each site to collaborate with other components of the criminal justice system as well as social service providers, advocacy groups, and community organizations and/or community members who have the capacity to participate in the initiative for the three-year period.
9) How are the communities of the pilot sites represented?
The goal is to have the community represented by a diverse range of individuals and community groups, which could include but are not limited to clergy, nonprofit organizations, street outreach workers, academic institutions, city officials, invested members of the public, and victims of crime.
10) How long is the commitment to participate in the National initiative? What happens afterward?
The commitment is for the full three-year life of the National Initiative award from DOJ. Each site’s implementation design will establish a sustainable framework for making the National Initiative’s efforts a routine part of the long-term relationships between law enforcement and communities.
11) What happens in the 6 months after a site is selected?
The National Initiative team will conduct regular meetings with site leaders to develop a detailed, site-specific project plan outlining the activities to take place during the course of implementation. The plan for each pilot site may vary depending on whether and to what extent the site has previously addressed procedural justice, racial reconciliation, implicit bias, violence prevention, and goals around subpopulations such as high-risk youth, victims of crime, victims of domestic violence, and the LGBTQI community.
12) What types of interventions and strategies will be implemented?
We will use existing practices, and also develop some new interventions, to assess police departments for implicit bias; educate both police executives and rank-and-file officers in procedural justice; and guide both police and community actors in reconciliation processes. For example, efforts to support practice may include adapting methods for refining the police’s focus to the small number of people who drive serious violent crime (thus both reducing violence and unwanted police contact with the general public); mentoring high-risk youth; and enhancing the way the police engage with victims of crime, victims of domestic violence, and the LGBQTI community.
13) How will this initiative benefit the sites’ police departments and communities?
Successful implementation of interventions to enhance procedural justice, reduce implicit bias, and promote racial reconciliation have had short- and long-term benefits including improved safety for officers, reduction in violent crime and homicides, improved public perceptions of police legitimacy, greater public cooperation with police, and strengthened relationships with communities of color.
14) How will success be defined and measured?
The National Initiative team will collect data from each pilot site on police-public contact and other relevant variables. The National Initiative team use rigorous methods to assess whether crime, calls for service, and other administrative metrics have changed over time, as well as how the communities’ perceptions of the criminal justice system have changed.