• Reconciliation

    The process of reconciliation involves law enforcement partners and communities directly engaging with one another in order to address past and present harms, air grievances, and address narratives that keep both sides from moving toward their shared goal of improving public safety.

About the Innovation
Tools & Guides

Beginning with its work in bringing communities and police together to shut down drug markets, the National Network has been both exploring and applying processes of police-community reconciliation. This work involves law enforcement partners and communities directly engaging with one another in order to address past and present harms, air grievances, and address narratives that keep both sides from moving toward their shared goal of improving public safety. The reconciliation process typically includes frank discussions between law enforcement and community stakeholders about how traditional law enforcement has been both ineffective and damaging, about how communities can do more to communicate clear norms against violence and other serious crime, and about how to work together to develop a safer community. This process has proven powerful. It can be an uncomfortable step, but it is often necessary for forming a true partnership and rebuilding trust. 

The aim of the process is that communities and law enforcement come to see that 1) they misunderstand each other in important ways, 2) both have been contributing to harms neither desires, 3) in crucial areas, both want fundamentally the same things, and 4) there is an immediate opportunity for partnership that can concretely benefit both the community and the authorities that serve it. The process allows strong community standards to emerge and law enforcement to step back. These conversations begin to uncover common ground, and disaffected communities usually feel strengthened to articulate norms against crime and violence, in part because they are less angry with law enforcement and are eager to try a new approach. As a result of this process, law enforcement gains legitimacy in the eyes of the community, the community is freed to set its own public safety standards, and enforcement actions can be kept to a minimum. So far applied mainly at the neighborhood level, the National Network is actively exploring ways that reconciliation can be expanded.

The Department of Justice has recently put this work on the national agenda. In 2012, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) published Racial Reconciliation, Truth Telling, and Police Legitimacy, an executive summary of a working session on the topic.In an effort to further develop our understanding of this important field, the COPS Office is also supporting a study, led by the National Network, of the methods and outcomes of truth-telling and racial reconciliation in a variety of jurisdictions that have initiated this work in some capacity.

Additionally, the Department of Justice is supporting the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Led by the National Network, the National Initiative will include partners from the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School, the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, and the Urban Institute and will establish interventions designed to improve relations between minority communities and law enforcement in cities across the country, as well as advance the public and scholarly understandings of issues around police-community relations.

Racial Reconciliation, Truth Telling, and Police Legitimacy (2012)

This report discusses issues raised at an executive session hosted by the COPS Office and the National Network for Safe Communities in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2012.

Drugs, Race, and Common Ground: Reflections on the High Point Intervention

At the 2008 National Institute of Justice Conference, David Kennedy talked about his work to combat drug markets, especially the High Point Intervention, an innovative program now being replicated in over 19 sites nationally under the Drug Market Intervention strategy.  This article is based on his remarks.

Practice Brief: Norms, Narrative and Community Engagement for Crime Prevention (Community Moral Voice)

The norms and narratives held by offenders and potential offenders, communities; and law enforcement have tremendous impact on crime and crime prevention, how each part views the others, and their actions; and their willingness to work together. Recent work has shown that norms and narratives can be directly addressed and even changed, with enormous practical impact. This practice brief addresses the practical aspects of addressing "norms and narratives" in crime prevention.

Strengthening the Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color

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. This publication, recently published by COPS at DOJ, is a great outline of the first of many forums to focus on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. 

Understanding Deterrence and Legitimacy in Law

In this series of short videos, Tracey Meares, Deputy Dean and Walton Hale Hamilton Professor at Yale Law School, discusses the theories of deterrence and legitimacy of law that underpin the National Network's strategies and contribute to the racial reconciliation process.

Tracey Meares: The Legitimacy of Police Among Young African-American Men

In the Inaugural George and Margaret Barrock Lecture at Marquette Law School, Tracey Meares, Deputy Dean and Walton Hale Hamilton Professor at Yale Law School, discusses the importance of fostering police legitimacy among African-American communities in order to encourage compliance with law and public safety. This lecture became Dr. Meares' paper, "The Legitimacy of Police Among Young African-American Men."

Alexander, M. (2011). New Jim Crow, The. Ohio St. J. Crim. L., 9, 7.

Cabaniss, E. R., Frabutt, J. M., Kendrick, M. H., & Arbuckle, M. B. (2007). Reducing disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system: Promising practices. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(4), 393-401.

Horowitz, J. (2007). Making every encounter count: Building Trust and Confidence in the Police. NIJ Journal, 256, 8-11.

Hough, M., Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Myhill, A., & Quinton, P. (2010). Procedural justice, trust, and institutional legitimacy. Policing, 4(3), 203-210.

Kennedy, D. M. (2009, March). Drugs, Race and Common Ground: Reflections on the High Point Intervention. National Institute of Justice Journal, No. 262.

Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Davis, J., & Manning, M. (2009). Legitimacy in policing. Research Preview. Brisbane, Queensland: ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security.

Murphy, K., Hinds, L., & Fleming, J. (2008). Encouraging public cooperation and support for police. Policing & Society, 18(2), 136-155.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Dept of Justice, & United States of America. (2009). Disproportionate Minority Contact.

Sunshine, J., & Tyler, T. R. (2003). The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in shaping public support for policing. Law & Society Review, 37(3), 513-548.

The Sentencing Project. Disproportionate minority contact.

Tyler, T. R. (Ed.). (2007). Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: An International Perspective. Russell Sage Foundation.

Tyler, T. R., & Fagan, J. (2008). Legitimacy and cooperation: Why do people help the police fight crime in their communities. Ohio St. J. Crim. L., 6, 231.

Tyler, T. R. (2006). Psychological perspectives on legitimacy and legitimation. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 57, 375-400.

Tyler, Tom R. "What is procedural justice? Criteria used by citizens to assess the fairness of legal procedures." Law & society review 22.1 (1988): 103-135.

Tyler, T. R., & Huo, Y. (2002). Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts Through. Russell Sage Foundation.

Tyler, T. R. (2005). Policing in black and white: Ethnic group differences in trust and confidence in the police. Police Quarterly, 8(3), 322-342.

Tyler, T. R. (2001). Trust and law abidingness: A proactive model of social regulation. BUL Rev., 81, 361.

News & Updates

Stockton police, community leaders participate in ‘Healing the Harm’ online broadcast

March 2019  |  Recordnet.com  

STOCKTON — Police leaders were joined Tuesday morning by two community activists during a live coast-to-coast online broadcast sharing their efforts and insights into building back the critical trust between law enforcement and the public that is a vital component of creating a safer, less violent city for every resident.

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Acknowledging Racist Legacy Can Mend Police-Community Relations, Experts Say

March 2019  |  The Crime Report  

It’s no secret that America’s most disadvantaged communities have long had troubled relationships, at best, with their local police. But when the Urban Institute shared just how negatively six U.S. communities with the lowest income and highest crime levels felt about their respective police forces, some jaws dropped among police brass attending a Tuesday conference at John Jay College.

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

American Police Must Own Their Racial Injustices

July 2018  |  The American Prospect  

To improve relationships with communities of color, a reconciliation movement has begun in several cities, in which police brush up on their history, admit past mistakes, and listen to frank talk and hard truths. 

Tags: BirminghamLos AngelesStockton Reconciliation Reconciliation

Now Minneapolis’ top cop, Medaria Arradondo brings useful skills to big task

August 2017  |  Star Tribune  

Recently confirmed Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, acknowledging the historical mistreatment of minorities by law enforcement: "When legislative laws came down, whether it's segregating our schools or universities, police were the people on the front lines that were thrust into those very hot-button social issues. This has not changed today."

Tags: Minneapolis Reconciliation Reconciliation

Bryan Stevenson: A Presumption of Guilt

June 2017  |  The New York Review of Books  

"People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are often assumed to be guilty and dangerous. In too many situations, black men are considered offenders incapable of being victims themselves. As a consequence of this country’s failure to address effectively its legacy of racial inequality, this presumption of guilt and the history that created it have significantly shaped every institution in American society, especially our criminal justice system."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Want To Be A Chicago Police Officer? You’ll Have To Learn Black History

June 2017  |  DNAinfo  

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, speaking to recruits: “Because violence most often affects those in disadvantaged neighborhoods, due in part to the disparity we desperately need to fix, we also find ourselves interacting more often than not with African-Americans and other people of color. Many of you will start your careers in these areas, and it’s important you understand the history that created the conditions in those neighborhoods.”

Tags: Chicago Reconciliation Reconciliation

David Kennedy: What Cops Need to Do If They Want the Public’s Trust

April 2017  |  O Magazine  

"There is good work being done to reform policing—from recruiting officers who better reflect the communities they police to training them in implicit bias, de-escalation, and transparency. But nothing can undo history. If black communities are to trust the police, and if we are to increase public safety, we must purposefully break from the past. Many in law enforcement agree."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Q&A: Stockton Police Chief aims to regain community’s trust

April 2017  |  The Stanford Daily  

Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones participated in a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) panel to discuss local communities’ falling trust in police enforcement.

Tags: Stockton Reconciliation Reconciliation

Female police officers’ de-escalation skills changing tone in Minneapolis

April 2017  |  Star Tribune  

"The Minneapolis Police Department is rethinking its use-of-force policies, while stepping up its efforts to recruit female officers. Officers are now being trained in alternative ways to control violent or uncooperative suspects before resorting to physical means."

Tags: Minneapolis Reconciliation Reconciliation

Project Longevity brings New Haven residents, police together at forum

April 2017  |  New Haven Register  

Project Longevity organized a discussion panel to educate the public about its work in the city--and state--and start a conversation about how to foster police-community reconciliation in New Haven. 

Tags: New Haven Reconciliation Reconciliation