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.

Related Work

Series: Covid-19

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 ...

Blog Post
  • Jackson Beck
    Jackson Beck
  • Leah  Pope
    Leah Pope
May 28, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

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 ...

Blog Post
  • Leah  Pope
    Leah Pope
  • Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
    Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
April 30, 2020
Blog Post

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 ...

Blog Post
  • Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
    Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
March 27, 2020
Blog Post

What Can A Police Beating in Pittsburgh Teach Us About Racial Bias and Use Of Force?

Vera: What happened to Jordan Miles in 2010? DH: Jordan, an 18-year-old high school senior, left his mother’s house at night to walk around the block, to where his grandmother lived. The family lived in Homewood, an African American neighborhood that has experienced a high level of violent crime. Within a minute of leaving, Jordan encountered three ...

Blog Post
  • Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
    Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
February 25, 2020
Blog Post

Understanding Law Enforcement Practice in Your Community: An Exploration of 911 Open Data Sets

This sort of analysis is just the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll be blogging about how best to use the data here. We’re expecting people to reach out so that they can ask more questions. We would love to start a conversation about how Vera and Two-Sigma can support your 911 data exploration in your city, and how you can use the data aggregation and ...

Blog Post
  • Frankie Wunschel
    Frankie Wunschel
February 21, 2020
Blog Post

Making 911 Accessible

A Guide to 911 Open-Datasets

The 911 system offers an initial look into the problems communities face and the resulting responses that police departments supply. There is a growing demand across the country for greater transparency in policing—and access to data is a key way to increase this transparency. 911 open databases are a prime example of accessible data that communiti ...

Publication
  • Two Sigma Data Clinic, Abdul Rad, Frankie Wunschel
February 19, 2020
Publication