Vera’s Policing Program is dedicated to fundamentally shifting the culture of policing from one that incentivizes and defaults to enforcement, to one that delivers and rewards public safety through community engagement and satisfaction. American policing’s overreliance on punitive enforcement, especially for minor transgressions, has resulted in a recurring adversarial dynamic that fans the flames of deeply rooted acrimony toward police in communities already experiencing enduring problems of poverty, high crime rates, and limited access to social services. This dynamic is especially pronounced in communities of color, which experience far greater levels of enforcement. Additionally, damaged police-community relations make it more difficult for police to execute their most critical responsibility: to respond to violent crime and protect public safety. In those communities where distrust in police is high, people are less likely to report a crime or offer witness testimony, which impedes effective policing.

Ruptured and spoiled relations between police and many of the communities they serve—particularly communities of color—are among some of the greatest challenges facing contemporary American society. We must bridge this gulf. Through developing new data-driven tools, assisting local governments and community leaders with policy development, and conducting research, we aim to provide alternatives to punitive enforcement and to enhance community-police collaborative problem-solving.

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