National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice

In 2014, the US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs launched the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice (National Initiative). Spanning six cities, the initiative consisted of officer training, departmental policy changes, and community engagement designed to repair and strengthen police-community relationships by addressing the deep historical roots of distrust in the police among people of color and other marginalized populations.

The publications below are the result of Urban’s evaluation of the National Initiative and its impact.

This brief highlights key evaluation findings from 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. The Initiative consisted of officer training, departmental policy changes, and a reconciliation process designed to repair police-community relationships by addressing the deep historical roots of distrust in the police among people of color and other marginalized populations. Findings show promise for the National Initiative model, suggesting that it was moderately successful in achieving its intended goals of training officers to be more equitable and respectful of community members and improving police practices and police-community relations. The full evaluation findings are presented in three additional publications: a brief describing changes in community sentiment in each site, a report on the content and implementation of activities for each jurisdiction, and an impact report examining the degree to which Initiative activities were associated with changes in crime rates, departmental practices, and police-community interactions.

The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice

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.

Supplemental Materials

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

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.

Learning to Build Police-Community Trust

This brief examines changes in community sentiment about police within 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. In-person surveys of residents living in neighborhoods experiencing high rates of crime and concentrated poverty in each of the participating cities explored residents’ views of the police and police-community relationships, their perceptions of crime and neighborhood conditions, and their willingness to partner with the police on crime control and prevention. Comparisons of baseline to follow-up survey findings show that while views of the police were negative at both waves, considerable improvements in residents’ perceptions occurred after the Initiative was implemented—most notably around procedural justice, police legitimacy, and police bias.

Views of the Police and Neighborhood Conditions