Program Supported by Target Recognizes New Orleans (LA), Irving (TX) and Central Falls (RI)

Reno, NV—Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in partnership with Target, announced the winners of this year’s Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program: New Orleans (LA), Irving (TX), and Central Falls (RI). The program aims to identify, promote, and support police policies and practices that cities of all sizes are finding to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents.

In the second year of this competitive grant program, judges named one winner in each of the program’s large (over 300,000), mid-sized (100,000 – 300,000) and small (under 100,000) population categories. The three winning cities will share in this year’s total of $350,000 in grant funds.

Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Winners

  • Large City Award: New Orleans – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

Currently operating out of the Police Department’s 8th District, this initiative targets individuals who cycle in and out of the criminal legal system. Street-level client-centered handling of those involved in non-violent municipal offenses related to substance use, serious mental illness, and trauma has produced significant drops in police summons, arrests, and average time spent in jail. The $175,000 grant awarded will be applied to the City’s goal of expanding LEAD services and taking the program city-wide.

  • Mid-Sized City Award: Irving, TX – Shop Talk

Developed by the Police Department in 2016 in the wake of the murder of five police officers, the Shop Talk program is an outreach initiative involving random, impromptu visits by officers to barbershops in the African American community and wide-ranging discussions of patrons’ issues and concerns that improve community relations and develop trust. Supported by barbershop owners, the program now includes 30 shops and additional salons, 100 police officers, and a licensed clinical social worker to help barbers identify patrons who may be in need of mental health services. The $100,000 grant award will be applied to the expansion of the program into other minority communities and to creation of additional program events and enhancements.

  • Small City Award: Central Falls, RI – The Leading Ladies Initiative

Serving a city in which high percentages of children live in below-poverty-level families and attend schools with high dropout rates, The Central Falls Police Department engages community-minded women with diverse professional backgrounds to serve as mentors for underserved teenage girls, advising them on preparation for higher education, interviews, and obstacles likely to be encountered along the way. The experience includes mentors and girls shopping together for clothing appropriate for the workplace and having lunch or dinner in a local restaurant. The $75,000 grant will be applied to program expansion, the addition of boys, tutoring, and scholarships.

 “At Target, we’re proud to sponsor the Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program because we believe we all have a role to play in creating spaces where our team members, guests and communities feel safe,” said Target’s Laysha Ward. “This year’s winners are proof of what can happen through partnership. By working together to achieve racial equity and social justice, we can move our communities and our country forward by offering opportunity, hope and progress for all Americans.”

“We continue to be grateful for our partnership with Target as we recognize and support cities that are putting in the work to achieve greater racial justice and strengthen the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “There is no doubt that these grants will help mayors build on their efforts to create lasting change in their cities.”

“On behalf of the City of New Orleans, it is an honor to have been selected as a winner of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We are thrilled to receive this grant as we continue our focus on advancing community safety through proven initiatives that help those who have been overly incarcerated and possess underlying and unmet behavioral health needs. This client-centered approach and investment to our community will allow us to identify additional essential services through a racial equity lens and target the specific needs of some of our most vulnerable residents who are overrepresented in the carceral system. This grant will also afford us with an opportunity to expand our Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program to better meet our people where they are. Thank you again for recognizing our hard work and the accomplishments of the New Orleans LEAD program.”

”Shop Talk started with a very simple idea: to build relationships and trust between Irving Police and the African American community,” said Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer. “Over the years, Officer Plunkett has worked to expand the program and truly develop meaningful connections. I am so proud of the positive impact Shop Talk has had and appreciate the recognition and USCM/Target Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant to continue growing the program in Irving.”

“Our City’s Leading Ladies Initiative, in partnership with our Central Falls Police Department, will connect dozens of high school students who are at-risk with powerful and inspiring one-on-one female mentors, many of whom are leaders of color, just like our students. From CEOs to statewide elected officials to police officers, this leadership development initiative will provide students with first-hand professional mentorship experience, while simultaneously instilling necessary awareness and confidence to navigate racial and misogynistic hurdles they will likely face and overcome throughout their careers,” said Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera. “I want to thank Target for the incredible funding that’s making this initiative possible, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for giving our City the platform to highlight this important work.”

Summary descriptions of the winning programs, along with the balance of the 32 programs submitted by cities in this second round of the grant competition, have been posted on the Conference of Mayors website under the Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities. The goal is to share with all mayors information on the approaches to police reform being taken or planned by their colleagues throughout the U.S.

Learn more about the partnership between Target and USCM, and the Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant program, in the announcement here.