The goal of Vera’s Policing Program is to shrink the footprint of American policing and advance racial equity. We provide data and tools in support of grassroots and community-led movements and blueprint approaches that prioritize community needs. We approach our work by focusing on areas in which disparities and biases exist, making enforcement data widely accessible, and uplifting community-based solutions.

Police officers are the most visible manifestation of the criminal legal system, and their actions have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people every year. From its inception, American policing has harmed and disproportionately targeted communities of color—and Black communities in particular. Despite its legacy of violence and racism, policing today lacks transparency, and officers are rarely held accountable for their actions. As a result, police legitimacy is at an all-time low and communities across the country are questioning what role, if any, police should play in 21st century America—and why elected representatives are funding police departments over other essential public services. To date, the voices of those who are most impacted by police have been excluded from decisions about policing. This is despite the fact that enforcement numbers in the United States are staggering (with more than 10 million arrests each year) and that racially disparate enforcement patterns have caused significant harm to communities of color. Further, although the collateral consequences of punitive enforcement for individuals and communities are well documented, police still remain the default first responders in most places—responding to a range of social, economic, and health issues that would be better resolved within the community—and often in ways that exacerbate existing disadvantage.

Our current projects build on Vera’s position as a national justice reform organization and our capacity to gather and analyze data, communicate with diverse audiences, and engage both government stakeholders and grassroots organizations.

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Coronavirus, Mental Health, and the Enduring Importance of Health-Centered Crisis Response

With support from the NFL Foundation, Vera’s Serving Safely initiative promotes crisis response programs that connect people in crisis to community-based services while minimizing involvement with police and the criminal justice system. In today’s fraught environment, however, vital social distancing efforts deprive people of traditional supports a ...

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Public Health and Public Safety: The Critical Role of Police During the COVID-19 Crisis

One concern has been that law enforcement officers themselves could become vectors of transmission for coronavirus because of the degree of public exposure inherent in policing. While much has been written about law enforcement practices at this time, less focus has been placed on the public health and safety risks for frontline responders and thei ...

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Series: Covid-19

Law Enforcement Best Practices Can Help Halt the Spread of COVID-19 by Keeping People Out of Jail

Jurisdictions adopt best practices A few jurisdictions, including several of the largest police forces in the country, have already adopted some of these best practices. These departments provide examples for law enforcement agencies nationwide. Some jurisdictions are taking steps to change enforcement patterns. Miami-Dade Police Department has ...

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