• 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

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

February 2017  |  Urban Institute  

"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."

Tags: BirminghamFort WorthGaryMinneapolisPittsburghStockton Reconciliation Reconciliation

Stockton Police Look To Open Dialogue With Community

December 2016  |  Stockton Record  

"By his own account, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones says law enforcement has had a troubled history with its community. He believes the only way forward is dialogue with the community."

Tags: Stockton Reconciliation Reconciliation

Acting Police Chief Tells Community Members He Will Uphold Former Chief’s Vision

December 2016  |  WESA Pittsburgh   

"Pittsburgh’s acting Police Chief Scott Schubert assured a group gathered in Larimer Wednesday night that he would follow through with former chief Cameron McLay’s vision for the force in improving community relations."CREDIT SARAH SCHNEIDER / 90.5 WESA

Tags: Pittsburgh Reconciliation Reconciliation

How Do We Unlearn Racism

November 2016  |  Complex Magazine  

"The past few years of race relations in America beg the question: can our racism be unlearned? Experts believe perhaps it can, but that work starts with a better understanding of the nation's history."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Can Empathy Improve Policing?

October 2016  |  Huffington Post  

"Social scientists have begun joining forces with police to look at how police communication protocols and training can be changed to help increase community trust for the police and reduce the use of force—and help them work together to fight crime."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Better by Half

October 2016  |  Marshall Project  

"Between 1996 and 2014, [New York City] was bucking the national trends. Its incarceration rate — including inmates in city jails and prisoners in state prisons who originated in the city — declined by 55 percent, while incarceration in the remainder of both New York State and the United States was rising."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

Justice Department to Track Use of Force by Police Across U.S.

October 2016  |  New York Times  

"The Justice Department said Thursday that it would start collecting nationwide data early next year on police shootings and other violent encounters with the public, after a series of protests and investigations since 2014 spurred by a string of deadly episodes."Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

When Justice Fails, Here’s How to Begin the Healing

October 2016  |  The Crime Report  

"Public trust isn’t a given anymore; public trust has to be won...the justice system’s efforts to win public trust will stand or fall on how the system and its practitioners confront their own mistakes."

Tags: Reconciliation Reconciliation

How America’s Past Shapes Native Americans’ Present

October 2016  |  The Atlantic  

"A Minneapolis community seeks to counteract centuries of federal policies that have put its people at a disadvantage."

Tags: Minneapolis Reconciliation Reconciliation

Minneapolis Unveils Portal To Show Info, Complaints On Officers

October 2016  |  CBS Minnesota   

"The city of Minneapolis is making information on their police officers more accessible than ever before. Mayor Betsy Hodges revealed a new data portal for the Office of Police Conduct and Review. The office reviews every complaint made against a police officer within the city."

Tags: Minneapolis Reconciliation Reconciliation