Vera Institute of Justice: Police Enhancing Accountability through Community Engagement (PEACE) Initiative
The national Police Enhancing Accountability through Community Engagement (PEACE) Initiative is responding to the growing demand among police and community members for a tangible, collaborative venue to share their concerns, hear each other’s perspectives, and work together to develop solutions that can be incorporated into police policies. In 2016, Vera developed a new approach for police to engage community members who were willing to come to the table and work with their local law enforcement agencies, to take a critical look at police policies that could be strengthened with community input and the expertise of national policing experts. This model was successfully piloted in Asheville, NC. The national expansion of the PEACE Initiative will build on the successes of the experiences in Asheville, and aims to:
- Strengthen police-community partnerships, and build a foundation for further collaboration
- Enhance public safety through improved police policies, increased accountability and enhanced community engagement
- Identify a cohort of police chiefs and community leaders actively working to bridge the police-community divide
- Cultivate a strong narrative about policing that highlights the plausibility of reform through police-community partnerships
Law enforcement agencies may apply to become a PEACE site and receive structured support and guidance from Vera. Vera’s technical assistance (TA) is centered on a process of collaborative policy development, allowing police departments to modernize their policies with community buy-in, strengthen police-community partnerships, and receive national recognition for demonstrating a commitment to pragmatic police reform. Vera will work in partnership with selected TA sites to:
- Determine which policy or policies could be best developed through a police-community forum
- Facilitate local police-community forums, furthering the concrete goal of shaping policing policies in a way that is genuine, practical, and informed by the community
- Develop new or revised police policies that reflect law enforcement priorities and community concerns
- Amplify the work of the selected jurisdictions, highlighting their willingness to engage in this collaborative approach, and lifting police agencies up as leaders in the field exploring new and innovative ways to enhance police-community relations
While projects can focus on a variety of policies, the following topics may be particularly suited to the PEACE Initiative as they are often at the center of conflicts between police and community members: de-escalation, use-of-force, language access, policing in school environments, civilian complaint intake, alternatives to arrest, protests, parking enforcement, or suggestions that are requested by the applicant.
Amount: Up to five sites will be selected to receive comprehensive, collaborative policy development technical assistance.
Eligibility: Local police department or other law enforcement agencies. Agencies are expected to have established community support and showcase partnerships with local community groups with whom they intend to work.
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