This paper reviews key findings from the Urban Institute’s evaluation of the National Initiative’s effort to improve police-community relationships in six cities.
This brief serves as an executive summary of key findings from the Urban Institute’s evaluation of the implementation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice (National Initiative). The initiative’s goal for activities, which took place between January 2015 through December 2018, was to improve public safety and increase trust between communities and the criminal justice system; its work was based on three core areas: procedural justice, implicit bias, and reconciliation. Key findings suggest that police leadership is critical for success; police trainings in procedural justice and implicit bias were very important but also placed a heavy resource burden; reconciliation sessions and police openness to community perspectives played an important role in policy change; local contexts affected implementation and results varied based on location; sites benefited from peer exchanges with other National Initiative cities; and that detailed and accurate measurements of police administrative data is crucial. The guiding questions for the evaluation focused on how intervention activities were designed and implemented, and whether training and technical assistance activities were effective. The authors recommend collecting data on outcomes such as arrests and use of force, by race and ethnicity should be a priority for enhancing police-community relationships, and that future evaluations should connect training programs to behavior change and track residents’ perceptions over long periods of time.