Securing Equal Justice

Building Bridges Between Police and Communities

Policing in America is facing a crisis of legitimacy and purpose. Although what the future holds is uncertain, it’s ripe not only with peril, but with potential. We can rededicate policing as a public service based in trust between law enforcement and the diverse communities officers serve and protect. This is critically important now—as we all can see—but also deep into our future as America evolves into a majority-minority nation. 

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. 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 many communities already enduring systemic problems of racism, poverty, high crime rates, and limited access to social services. 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.

Our work gets to the root of the current crisis: policing practices that are overly reliant on enforcement. Vera actively strives to transform policing from a profession that defaults to enforcement, to one that prioritizes community engagement and satisfaction. To achieve this, we’re working with experts nationally to nurture bottom-up policing, where whole agencies—not just special units or liaisons—are informed by, collaborate with, and are responsive to the community. Such community-informed policing understands and measures the connection between public satisfaction and public safety, applies alternatives to enforcement wherever possible, and reflects a right-sized role for law enforcement in responding to crime and the social problems that underlie it. It appreciates the role that present and historic racism has played in corroding trust and good will. At the same time, we are engaging the rank and file in developing these reforms. Their real-life experiences with community members are often not recognized, rewarded, or considered when making policy changes.

For more on this work please visit Vera’s Policing Program.

Related Work

Vera’s Policing Program Releases a Special Edition of “Emerging Issues in American Policing” Quarterly Digest

Emerging Issues in American Policing is a quarterly digest tailored to practitioners and community members interested in policing.  It is designed to elevate new and innovative research on policing practices and strategies, by providing readers with succinct summaries that highlight key findings and implementation recommendations. This digest equip...

Blog Post
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
  • Mawia Khogali
    Mawia Khogali
June 29, 2018
Blog Post

Serving Safely

The National Initiative to Enhance Policing for Persons with Mental Illnesses and Developmental Disabilities

Serving Safely is a national initiative designed to improve interactions between police and persons affected by mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Supported through a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the initiative includes leaders in the fields of policing, mental illness, intellectual/developmental ...

Project
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
Project

Series: Two Societies

50 Years of Police Militarization Against Communities of Color

“Police practices” topped the list of deeply held grievances named by the individuals and communities interviewed to compile the data for the landmark Kerner Commission Report, published in 1968. After protests erupted in 1967 across the country in communities of color, the commission noted that, “In several cities, the principal official response ...

Blog Post
  • Lindsey Price Jackson
    Lindsey Price Jackson
April 23, 2018
Blog Post

Vera’s Policing Program Releases Second Volume of “Emerging Issues in American Policing” Quarterly Digest

Recent research unveils how factors like police stress, supervision strategies, and calls for service affect officer and community wellbeing. Emerging Issues in American Policing is a quarterly digest tailored to practitioners and community members interested in policing. It is designed to elevate new and innovative research on policing practices a...

Blog Post
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
  • Megan  O'Toole
    Megan O'Toole
March 29, 2018
Blog Post

Vera’s Policing Program Launches "Emerging Issues in American Policing" Quarterly Digest

As increased national attention has focused on troubling policing incidents and calls to reform policing practices, the need for empirical research and lived examples of effective approaches in modern day policing continues to grow. Although a great volume of research on policing strategies has been published, much of this work is written for an ac...

Blog Post
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
January 26, 2018
Blog Post

Stronger Together: Vera’s Policing Program Works to Bridge the Divide between Police and Community

Spreading PEACE It is in this context that Vera is launching its new Policing Program. With this program, Vera has expanded its capacity to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies and communities to collaboratively measure, manage, and improve public safety; better respond to the needs of vulnerable populations; and advance a new model for p...

Blog Post
  • Rebecca Neusteter
    Rebecca Neusteter
October 16, 2017
Blog Post