Building Trust with Communities of Color to Be Subject of New Law Enforcement Guidebook

Building Trust With Communities of Color to Be Subject of New Law Enforcement Guidebook


Officers of color will be the primary authors and contributors


NEW YORK, NY – Increased diversification of communities nationwide requires law enforcement officers to cultivate trust and collaboration with people of differing races, religions, cultures, and languages to effectively police the community. Yet law enforcement experts note that many police agencies struggle when it comes to meaningfully engaging and building trust with communities of color, particularly after contentious police encounters involving use of force or other crime suppression strategies.  

To address this need, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is partnering with law enforcement officers and police organizations to produce Police Connecting with Communities of Color, a guidebook that will provide officers with tools to break down cultural barriers and linguistic challenges so that they can actively and positively engage with communities of color.

Members of Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ) will begin the 18-month project by consulting with law enforcement officers of color; Vera’s extensive network of justice practitioners, government officials, and community partners; and the Department of Justice, Community Relations Service. The project is funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Additional information about the project can be found at

COPS Office Director Ron Davis said, “I am pleased that the Vera Institute is partnering with the COPS Office through this grant to address the very important issue of law enforcement trust in communities of color. Building this trust through community policing is one of the most important things law enforcement can do to keep these communities safe. I am also glad to know that the guidebook, the primary deliverable of the grant, will be developed by officers for officers. I look forward to seeing this work completed.”   

Officers of color will be the primary authors and contributors to the guidebook. Checklists, top 10 lists, Q&A, vignettes, and other similar content will be geared toward police operations and quick applications in law enforcement contexts. Officers or law enforcement agencies that would like to contribute to the guidebook are invited to indicate their interest through this brief survey:

Specific strategies expected to be included in the guidebook include:

  • Strengthening multicultural community intolerance of public disorder
  • Partnering with faith leaders in Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities
  • Understanding LGBTQ communities of color’s public safety concerns
  • Identifying trafficking victims
  • Sustaining police-community relations with Latino communities living along the border
  • Ensuring safety for victims of color who come forward to report crimes
“This guidebook will be written for officers, by officers, and will provide readers with helpful tips and tools to effectively protect and police communities of color,” said Susan Shah, program director for CIJ. “Building a foundation of trust will allow crime victims and witnesses to feel more comfortable coming forward, foster communication between officers and cultural leaders, and lead to safer communities for everyone.”

Police Connecting with Communities of Color will also aim to help law enforcement agencies identify and make use of officers of color who can serve as in-house resources and cultural “brokers” to assist with trust-building efforts.

The guidebook aims to increase the number of law enforcement agencies and officers using community policing practices to build trust with communities of color because they understand, believe in, and experience the firsthand benefits of doing so.

The guidebook is expected to be complete and available for download on the Vera and COPS websites by August 2015.