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Strategies to Take Action and Build Trust Between the Community and Police

Strategies to Take Action and Build Trust Between the Community and Police (2014), from Everyday Democracy puts forth four strategies for positive community change from 25 years of experience with community-police relation dialogues.

From Everyday Democracy

1. Join with other who want to create change on this issue.
Community change happens when we all work together.  Join others already working toward change on this issue, or start a new group to organize community dialogue and action on community-police relations. Check out stories from South Bronx, N.Y.,Stratford, Conn., and Lynchburg, Va., to see what’s possible when communities come together after a tragic incident involving a community member and police officer. As you join with others, think about how you can:

  • Include all voices in the community, especially those who have been marginalized or excluded. Think about the neighborhoods, racial/ethnic groups, people with various viewpoints, and people who work in specific sectors who may be affected by this issue; invite them to take part in community conversations and action steps. Community conversation and action work best when people from all parts of the community come together.
  • Involve local officials and members of the police community. Having these groups take part in the conversation and action steps will begin to open a different form of communication between police and residents
  • Involve young people. The disconnect between police and the community is particularly wide between police and young people, especially youth of color. That’s why it’s essential for young people be involved from the beginning both in decision-making and implementation of change.
  • Work with bridge-building organizations and leaders in your community. Find local organizations and people to partner with who have trusting relationships with both the police department and community members.

2. Create opportunities for genuine community engagement.
Having a structured process for people, institutions, and government to work together can lead to real change. Our discussion guide, Protecting Communities, Serving the Public: Police and Residents Building Relationships to Work Together helps to create a space for community members and police to talk about trust, expectations, policing strategies and tactics.  This allows residents to communicate their concerns and allows the police community to communicate how residents can play critical roles in effective partnership strategies.

3. Address the history of mistrust and disconnection between the community and the police.
Tragic incidents don’t happen in a vacuum – there are hundreds of years of history and policies that have shaped our communities today. Our Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation discussion guide can help you have a conversation with your community to begin to dismantle stereotypes, understand the impact of structural racism, build mutual trust and respect, and develop strategies for changing institutions and policies.

4. Link dialogue to action and community change.
With appropriate planning and organizing, the buy-in of local officials and the police community is possible. A dialogue initiative with community residents and police can become a springboard not just for building relationships, but also for transforming the practices and policies of our public institutions. We must address the systemic roots of the recurring tragedies in our communities and work toward inclusive, equitable communities where everyone has voice and opportunity.

The whole article can be found here.

More about Everyday Democracy Everyday Democracy
Our mission is to help communities talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone. We work directly with local communities, providing advice and training and flexible how-to resources.

Everyday Democracy (formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.

We have learned that some of the key components to ensuring racially-equitable systemic change include building relationships, establishing a diverse coalition, having trained peer facilitators during dialogues, building on assets, and linking actions to individual, community, and policy change. We provide online tools and in-person trainings on organizing, racial equity, facilitation, communications, and action planning. We act as a catalyst and coach for communities, knowing that the people of each community are best suited to carry out and sustain the work that will make a difference.

The communities we serve are the focal point of our work. Our ultimate aim is to help create communities that value everyone’s voice and work for everyone, and to help create a strong national democracy that upholds these principles.

Follow on Twitter: @EvDem

Resource Link: http://everyday-democracy.org/news/strategies-build-trust-and-take-action

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