Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities (EPIC)

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The Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities (EPIC) project is a national effort to identify and assess promising law enforcement practices that cultivate trust and collaboration with immigrant communities. The project uses information collected from a comprehensive study of hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country to offer practical solutions and models for other policing agencies to use to strengthen relationships with the immigrant communities they serve.

Our Work

In 2010, Vera received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to take a comprehensive look at how law enforcement agencies are developing effective police-immigrant relations and document those practices in a national guide. Vera’s EPIC project provides practical information for law enforcement agencies and community partners that are interested in either beginning or enhancing their work with immigrant communities. EPIC resources include:

  • Publication. Outlines the eight key principles for effective police-immigrant relations, and discusses how 10 policing agencies featured in the report have applied the principles on the ground through a variety of promising practices.
  • Online ToolkitIncludes program documents collected from the 10 profiled agencies to serve as samples and models for other agencies. These documents include policies for serving immigrant communities, curricula for training law enforcement and community members, and outreach materials.
  • Podcasts. Seven podcasts are available online as part of The Beat podcast series at the COPS Office’s website. Each features a question and answer session with law enforcement personnel involved in the implementation of a program or practice featured in the report. 

Why EPIC? 
As the number of immigrants living in the United States continues to increase, fostering positive police-immigrant relations is vital for creating partnerships central to community policing and solving problems within a community. Yet law enforcement agencies face many challenges in working with immigrant communities, including some that have the potential to significantly hamper trust and confidence. Cultural and language barriers, immigrants’ fear of deportation or detention, and immigrants’ mistrust of law enforcement are some of the factors that can challenge police-immigrant relations. Police need to be able to collaborate effectively with all of the people they serve so that they can detect crime, offer protection, gather evidence, and keep the public safe.

Related Resources

The EPIC Project is one of several Vera projects that work to advance relations between police and immigrant communities.  Other related project topics include:

For more information about EPIC or the other policing projects, contact Susan Shah.

Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities: Promising Practices from the Field
11/13/2012
Today, approximately 40 million foreign-born people live in the United States, seven million of whom arrived within the past eight years. Because very little is known about how most police agencies nationwide work with immigrant communities, in 2010, Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice...
Policing in new immigrant communities
05/31/2009
The United States is becoming increasingly diverse as people emigrate from around the world seeking opportunities. The multicultural society this is generating presents new challenges for law enforcement. Recent immigrants can be both more vulnerable to crime and less likely to report it to law...
10/28/2013
Posted by
Someone was empowered to speak up. In New York City, home to what many claim to be the most opinionated voices in the country, we often take for granted that people will talk—that they’ll share their stories, scream out during an emergency, and tell it like it is. But in the case of “Baby Hope,” it...
Read more
12/10/2012
Posted by
Storm Lake is a town of 13,000 people in northwestern Iowa. I became the police chief in October 1989 just as our town was reaching a demographic tipping point. At first, change came slowly in the late 1970’s with the arrival of small groups of immigrants from Laos and various Latin American...
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EPIC Toolkit

To provide additional practical guidance from the field, Vera staff gathered resources from the 10 agencies profiled in the EPIC report. These include links to electronic copies of program documents, such as policies for serving immigrant communities, curricula for training law enforcement and community members, and podcasts housed on the COPS website. It is our hope that the resources listed below will prove useful tools for police departments around the country looking to build relationships with their local immigrant communities.

 

Table of Contents

· Citizens' Police Acadamies

· Community Advisory Councils and Committees

· Community Education on Laws and Practices

· Community Feedback

· Community Outreach

· Job Descriptions

· Policies and Procedures

· Audio Podcasts Podcast Icon

Citizens’ Police Academies

Community Advisory Councils and Committees

Community Education on Laws and Police Practices

Community Feedback

Community Outreach

Job Descriptions

Law Enforcement Training

Policies and Procedures

Audio Podcasts Podcast Icon
Listen to or download the following seven podcasts accompanying this report at the COPS website's The Beat podcast series.

  • Tips from a police community liaison on getting the trust and support of multilingual communities and sworn officers 
    (Monique Drier, Community Liaison, Brooklyn Center Police Department )
  • Practical tips for doing outreach to multicultural communities
    (Robin Martinson, Community Liaison, Brooklyn Park Police Department)
  • Working with the community in addressing sensitive topics.
    (Brian Kyes, Chief of Police, Chelsea Police Department)
  • Ensuring continuity in community policing initiatives during police agency transitions
    (Sergio Fidelis, Police Officer, Clearwater Police Department)
  • Effectively using radio for community outreach 
    (Rafael Fernandez, Sergeant, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department)
  • Tips for selecting a good research partner
    (James Stormes, Colonel, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office)
  • Practical foreign language instruction for officers
    (Jesse Guardiola, Police Officer, Tulsa Police Department)