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Learning to Build Police-Community Trust Implementation Assessment Findings from the Evaluation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice

September 8, 2019

This research report documents the training, policy development, and reconciliation activities of the six cities that took part in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, an effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. We found that the training component of the Initiative, which exposed officers to concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias, was implemented as intended and was well received by officers. In addition, the reconciliation framework used to improve relationships between police and communities was powerful and impactful, leading police departments to make changes to their policies to build trust and institutionalize improvements to practices. We also observed that local contexts affected the implementation process, with factors such as police leadership stability and the dynamics underlying relations between police, political leadership, and the community facilitating or impeding progress.

Impact of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice on Police Administrative Outcomes

August 8, 2019

This report examines the degree to which activities associated with the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice – a six-city effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members – yielded their intended impacts on crime rates, departmental practices, and police-community interactions. Analyses of administrative data indicated that the impacts of the interventions varied considerably by site – as did the availability and richness of sites' data. Changes in calls for service, violent crimes, and property crimes were mixed across sites. Two of the cities observed deceases in the amount of use of force incidents, but there was no reduction in the racial disparity of those events. While rates of pedestrian and traffic stops generally declined after the start of the National Initiative's primary activities, they ultimately returned to previous levels. In addition, arrest rates declined across sites, but no differences emerged in arrest rates by racial or ethnic characteristics. Site-specific findings and their association with National Initiative activities are discussed in detail.

“We Carry Guns to Stay Safe”: Perspectives on Guns and Gun Violence from Young Adults Living in Chicago’s West and South Sides

October 4, 2018

Homicide is the leading cause of death for black boys and men ages 15 to 34 in Chicago, and the easy availability of guns is a contributing factor. To stem the tide of gun violence in Chicago, policymakers need more insight into why young adults carry guns and what might deter them from doing so. The Urban Institute, in partnership with community program providers,  surveyed young adults living in Chicago's West and South Side neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence. This survey's purpose was to learn firsthand whether and why young adults in these neighborhoods carry guns, how they acquire firearms, how they experience gun violence and policing, and what they think could reduce gun carrying and promote safety.

Put the Guns Down: Outcomes and Impacts of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy

August 22, 2017

Across the United States, policymakers, practitioners, and communities are seeking ways to reduce the lethal violence highly concentrated in a relatively small number of urban neighborhoods. With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) collaborated with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and other city stakeholders to implement the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS), beginning in 2009. Chicago VRS identifies and targets street groups disproportionately responsible for gun violence and works to deter additional violence using a three-pronged strategy: criminal justice sanctions, community moral suasion, and social services provision. The intervention includes call-in meetings in the targeted police districts, during which identified group members are put on notice by VRS partners—including top leadership from CPD, federal and state prosecutors, and credible community messengers—that although they are valued community members, gun violence must stop, and that street groups represented in the meeting that continue to be involved in shootings will be the target of coordinated enforcement actions. Researchers at the Urban Institute and Yale University, in partnership with NNSC, conducted a comprehensive, mixed-methods, quasi-experimental outcome and impact evaluation of Chicago VRS funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The evaluation began in November 2011, seeking to determine whether and how Chicago VRS affected group member–involved violence and how the intervention may have been related to perceptions of group members, community residents, and police officers.

Mistrust and Ambivalence between Residents and the Police: Evidence from Four Chicago Neighborhoods

July 31, 2017

This brief examines the fractured relationship between residents in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods and the police that serve those communities. Based on surveys of people living in and police officers serving in four Chicago police districts on the city's south and west sides collected as part of the evaluation of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, these data demonstrate ambivalence between the police and residents. Community members do not generally perceive the police as acting in a procedurally fair manner and do not support their work; this perception is particularly high among people with recent arrest histories in co-offending networks. Police officers do not believe the community trusts them, and officers express little confidence or trust in those living in the districts they police. However, residents are generally willing to cooperate with the police on crime control efforts.

How Do People in High-Crime, Low-Income Communities View the Police?

February 22, 2017

This brief represents the experiences, views, and attitudes of community members who are often underrepresented in research on perceptions of law enforcement – people living in high-crime neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantage. The survey found that while residents of these neighborhoods are distrustful of police, they nevertheless want to cooperate and partner with police to make their communities safer. A door-to-door survey in high-crime neighborhoods of six cities found that less than a third of residents believe police respect people's rights, but the vast majority believe laws should be strictly followed and many would volunteer their time to help police solve crimes, find suspects, and discuss crime in their neighborhood.

Reducing Harms to Boys and Young Men of Color from Criminal Justice System Involvement

February 4, 2015

This paper reviews systemic, institutional, and community policies and practices that greatly impact the life chances of boys and young men of color. Policy and practice changes that would reduce criminal justice engagement and that would reduce the harms caused to communities of color from criminal justice engagement are identified and suggestions are made for developing more evidence of effectiveness for initiatives in this area.

Housing as a Platform for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

May 7, 2012

Outlines the options for and barriers to securing housing for former prisoners; the need for stable, affordable housing in order to maintain employment and avoid substance abuse and recidivism; and models for housing as a platform for positive outcomes.