The Trust Through Reform Project is an initiative focused on transforming the public safety system into one that we can all trust.
Recent events in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Dallas and other cities across the country have brought a national spotlight to the reality of community-police mistrust. Emerging movements have presented a variety of community-based narratives for response that are rooted in seeking accountability through protest. Meanwhile, local police departments have discussed new training tactics, equipment and strategies to avert misconduct and excessive use of force.
Neither of these two responses, alone, is positioned to effectively address the widespread trust deficit that preceded the current fallout. Failure to attend to the root causes of this broken trust increases the likelihood that the chasm will only deepen and widen as time goes on and more flashpoint scenarios play themselves out. Because many of the communities least trustful of law enforcement are also experiencing drastic levels of crime and violence, the reality of mistrust can lessen their participation with local law enforcement and even cause some community members to take the law into their own hands. Both sides yearn for safety. Neither side finds relief.
Through “bringing the H.E.A.T.”, we will convene partnership spaces around the topics of hiring, equipment, accountability, and training; finding mutual opportunities to advance the narrative of public safety. Through leveraging training co-led by law enforcement & community members, we recenter the conversation about community-police relations through understanding cynicism, implicit bias, and the historical impact of policing among contextual groups.
We recognize that history has located us all in a story that doesn’t work for the present and won’t work for the future. But history also teaches us that hope is always living in the neighborhood, but it doesn’t materialize until we cross the street.
OUR H.E.A.T. FRAMEWORK
HIRING (THE WHO)
Various communities are seeking public safety servants who are best positioned to understand and be responsive to the diversity that many of our neighborhoods reflect. Far gone are the days where a monolithic group is expected to be successful in culturally competent service that is constitutional and experienced as legitimate by the public. We believe we are at a moment when we need to consider, together, how our hiring practices around public safety need to be rebooted out of strategic partnership of community voice and those currently sworn to protect them.
EQUIPMENT (THE HOW)
The procedures and tactics used to provide public safety have an opportunity to be reimagined with a commitment to ensuring that personal security is provided for all in ways that don’t dehumanize or terrorize the public. We believe these two goals are not mutually exclusive but can be reached in partnership as we demilitarize our public safety experience and elevate the use of best practices to reduce community harm and officer injury. Because trust is central to building a relationship, a shared understanding around what produces safety and provides security is inescapable.
ACCOUNTABILITY (THE WHY)
Trust is achievable when we, as a shared community, can expect transparency in our relationship. Determining, on local levels, how transparency can be implemented in practice will create a much needed culture to move the conversation forward. We believe that determining the necessary mechanisms for ensuring neutrality and transparency are core to pioneering a new narrative around community to public safety system relationship.
TRAINING (THE WHAT)
Community members have a valid perspective on what the public safety system should know about providing their service to them. Procedural Justice focuses on respect, fairness, listening, and building trust as pathways to public safety officials to be seen as legitimate with communities who have a historical reason to mistrust. This concept, along with other educational tools, should serve as opportunities to discover the kinds of trainings the public safety system is currently using and what new ideas we should all be considering to serve an ever-changing public narrative. We believe that providing better education about practice and each other’s stories will empower a different relationship over time.