Vera Releases Report on Effective Police-Immigrant Relations

NEW YORK, NY—The Vera Institute of Justice, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), has published a new report and companion resources that provide practical solutions for law enforcement agencies and community partners that are interested in either beginning or enhancing their work with immigrant communities.

Law enforcement agencies face many challenges to ensuring the safety of the immigrant communities they serve and cultivating partnerships with these groups. Language and cultural barriers, when compounded with immigrants’ fear of, or misunderstandings about, police can lead to low crime reporting and little collaboration between police and the community.

Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities: Promising Practices from the Field highlights effective practices and policies from 10 different law enforcement agencies across the United States that are overcoming these barriers and building stronger police-immigrant relations. Two online companion resources accompany this report to provide practical tips—a toolkit and a podcast series. The toolkit includes policies for serving immigrant communities, curricula for training law enforcement and community members, and outreach materials that were collected from the profiled agencies to serve as samples and models for other agencies. The seven podcasts are part of The Beat podcast series at the COPS Office’s website. Each highlights a question-and-answer session with law enforcement personnel involved in the implementation of a program or practice featured in the report.

The 10 policing agencies featured in the report were selected through a comprehensive national search and closely reviewed by a team from the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Immigration and Justice.

Pradine Saint-Fort, senior program associate and lead author, hopes that the report and companion resources will make police-community relations more effective. “Across the country law enforcement agencies are operating under strained resources, and have neither the time nor money to spend on programs that may not work,” Saint-Fort says. “By sharing what has worked well for other agencies, we hope to reduce trial and error.”

The COPS Office is part of the U.S. Justice Department. Its mission is to advance the practice of community policing as an effective strategy to improve public safety.