Strengthening the Relationship between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color

Report: Strengthening the Relationship between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color – COPS, 2014

Two competing and destructive narratives that have emerged between police and communities of color: Many in the African-American community feel that most cops are dishonest and out to get them. . . . On the other hand, the cops will say the community is complicit, that “nobody cares,” “no one is raising their kids,” “everybody is living off of drug money,” and “the only thing we can do is occupy them.”

On April 4, 2014, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) hosted a conference with law enforcement officials, civil rights activists, academic experts, community leaders, and policymakers at the Ford Foundation offices in New York City.

This forum was the first in a series of forums focusing on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The meeting built on the findings of an earlier conference—held on January 12, 2012, and hosted by the COPS Office in conjunction with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC)—that addressed “Racial Reconciliation, Truth-Telling, and Police Legitimacy.”

At that meeting, Professor David Kennedy, co-chair and founder of the NNSC, summarized the two competing and destructive narratives that have emerged between police and communities of color: Many in the African-American community feel that most cops are dishonest and out to get them, that the CIA is behind the drug epidemic, and it’s all a conspiracy to lock up more and more African-American men. On the other hand, the cops will say the community is complicit, that “nobody cares,” “no one is raising their kids,” “everybody is living off of drug money,” and “the only thing we can do is occupy them.”

This meeting focused on identifying an “agenda for action” to provide a concrete plan for confronting this profound misunderstanding and breaking the cycle of mistrust and cynicism that for too long has fractured the relationship between the police and communities of color and subverted the power of their mutual cooperation. Shaping the Discussion Prior to the round table discussions, the panelists heard from distinguished speakers who provided perspective and insight to inform the meeting’s ambitious agenda.

Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney, Eastern District of New York, suggested that the starting point of the day should be to make a concerted effort to ensure that both groups—police and communities of color—are truly seen and truly understood. She explained, To say that the minority community has a conflicted relationship with law enforcement is a profound understatement. But if you listen closely, you can hear how often both groups are saying the same thing: “Don’t look at me and just see the uniform.” “Don’t look at me and assume the worst.” There is a mutual desire to be understood. We can find commonality from this common ground.

PDF-IMAGE-e1472054684316   Report: Strengthening the Relationship between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color – COPS, 2014

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *