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.

Related Work

The 911 Call Processing System

A Review of the Literature as it Relates to Policing

Police spend an inordinate amount of time responding to 911 calls for service. While most of these calls are unrelated to crimes in progress, police often respond with the tool that is most familiar and expedient to them: enforcement. This exhausts police resources and exposes countless people to avoidable criminal justice system contacts. There i...

  • Rebecca Neusteter, Maris Mapolski, Mawia Khogali, Megan O'Toole
July 19, 2019

Why a Michigan Law Enforcement Agency Employs Formerly Incarcerated People to Bridge the Police-Community Divide

A key goal of the Policing Program at Vera is to elevate innovative approaches to policing that employ alternatives to enforcement. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) in Michigan is doing just that in its community outreach program employing formerly incarcerated people, which isspearheaded by Sheriff Jerry L. Clayton and Derrick Jackson...

Blog Post
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
  • Megan  O'Toole
    Megan O'Toole
December 07, 2018
Blog Post

Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Case Study

Sheriff’s Office Hires Formerly Incarcerated Community Members to Promote Alternatives to Enforcement

Since 2009, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) in Michigan has been successfully implementing an innovative community outreach program that employs formerly incarcerated individuals as outreach workers (OWs). OWs assist with proactive policing strategies such as referring community members to resources, applying system expertise to help i...

  • Rebecca Neusteter, Megan O'Toole, Libby Doyle
December 05, 2018

Proactive policing

Prof. David Weisburd on the findings of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report

In this interview Prof. David Weisburd (George Mason University) summarizes the findings of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on proactive policing—focusing on the practice’s impacts on crime, and the reactions of communities.  David Weisburd is distinguished professor of criminology, law and society at George Mas...

July 24, 2018