Program Supported by Target Recognizes Boston (MA), Madison (WI), and Bloomington (MN)

Kansas City, Missouri — Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target announced the winners in this year’s Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Program which is designed to recognize, strengthen, and sustain policies and practices that police departments across the nation are currently employing in pursuit of equitable treatment of all persons they are pledged to serve and protect.
In this fourth year of the competitive program, judges have again selected one winner in each of three city population categories: large (over 300,000), mid-size (100,000 – 300,000), and small (under 100,000).

The three winning cities sharing in a total of $350,000 in grant funds this year are:

  • Large City: Boston (MA), for its Youth and Police Initiative (YPI) that aims to equip police with skills to understand and deal with troubled youth and to give troubled youth new ways to understand, perceive and deal with police authority.
  • Mid-Size City: Madison (WI), for its MAARI program that diverts individuals with mental health and substance use issues from the criminal justice system to treatment, peer support and recovery services.
  • Small City: Bloomington (MN), for its Increasing Trust through Shared Values Program that fosters trust between community members and police officers and has produced a fully staffed Police Department.

Three additional cities, one in each population category, were selected by the program’s judges for honorable mention recognition:

  • Large City: Orlando (FL), for its Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI) in which individuals at high risk of gun violence are recruited to receive trauma-informed, culturally responsive mental health services, job training, coaching and other support.
  • Mid-Size City: Little Rock (AR), for its Crisis Response Team (CRT) that addresses the specific needs of individuals suffering from mental illness, especially those unhoused, and reduces their encounters with the criminal justice system.
  • Small City: York (PA), for its Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program that was launched to reduce group-related violence and provide support for high-risk group-involved individuals by utilizing law enforcement, the community, and specialy qualified outreach workers.

“Target is proud to partner with the US Conference of Mayors in support of the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant,” said Isaac Reyes, Target’s Senior Vice President for Enterprise Risk and Government Affairs. “This initiative aims to identify, support, and promote police policies and practices in cities that have been shown to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all.”

“We applaud the commitment of our mayors and cities to advancing justice, and we thank Target for empowering these community-led initiatives through the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grants,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Together we are proud to elevate these innovative practices that enhance accountability, improve safety, and strengthen the bonds between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Summary descriptions of the winning programs follow below.

Learn more about the partnership between Target and USCM, and the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant program, in the program’s request for applications here.

Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Winning Programs

  • Large City Award: Boston – Youth and Police Initiative (YPI)
    Through role-playing and dialogue, YPI provides youth and police ways to discover new, positive ways of connecting. In partnership with NAFI, a multi-service agency, the Boston Police Department plans to implement YPI in four of Boston’s neighborhoods where gang violence, violent crime, housing instability, food insecurity and other risk factors are more prevalent. In the first year, the program aims to have trained 60 youth and 50-60 police officers from YPI. With launching six new YPI trainers from the cohort the focus is to enable broader implementation at minimal cost. YPI expenses cover stipends for youth graduates, food, and some officer overtime.
  • Mid-Size City Award: Madison – MAARI
    MAARI is a law enforcement-led, pre-arrest diversion program implemented by the Madison Police Department (MPD) to direct individuals struggling with mental health and substance use disorder challenges away from the criminal justice system and to connect them instead with treatment, counseling, peer support and recovery services. MPD has partnered with various organizations including Dane County Human Services, Tellurian Behavioral Health, Safe Communities of Madison and Dane County, the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University to enhance the proactive approach of providing individuals with treatment and services. Eligible individuals 18 and older identified by the MPD are connected to a six-month treatment plan. Any charges associated with their referral to MAARI are waived by the MPD.
  • Small City Award: BloomingtonIncreasing Trust through Shared Values Program
    Created by the Bloomington Police Department (BPD) to build back the trust between community members and the police that was weakened in the wake of the civil unrest that took place in May 2020 following the death of George Floyd, the program has worked with a diverse group of community block captains, executive stakeholders, faith leaders, and members of the BPD’s Multicultural Advisory Committee. Based on the shared values represented, the BPD was able to transition its recruitment and promotion of future law enforcement personnel from the traditional competency-focused model to one based on the candidate’s character and values. A pre- and post-intervention survey of public attitudes towards police on procedural justice, engagement, distributive justice, effectiveness, legitimacy, and the community’s willingness to cooperate with them showed positive changes in attitudes toward the police in all measured areas.

Police Reform and Equitable Justice Honorable Mention Recognition 

  • Large City Honorable Mention: Orlando – Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative This Initiative was a response to an increase in gun violence that began during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. A pilot program in which formerly incarcerated “returning citizens” conducted street outreach produced a dramatic reduction in shootings involving injury or death. The initiative’s participants are provided with therapy, coaching, life skills classes and social services. Because of their lived experience with violence and incarceration, the outreach workers serve as credible messengers when recruiting high-risk individuals to participate in the City’s 18-month program of services which has produced significant reductions in firearm homicides and non-fatal shootings.
  • Mid-Size City Honorable Mention: Little Rock – Crisis Response Team
    In 2022, confronted by the increased need for mental health services arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and recognizing that unhoused and housing insecure individuals who suffer from mental illness are most in need of help, the Little Rock Police Department established a team of four police officers and three social workers who were given Crisis Intervention Team training and removed from the normal dispatch system in order to allow response time flexibility, time to conduct follow-up contacts, and additional time to be spent with individuals in need. Beyond referring those in need to appropriate community services, the Team is reducing contacts they have had in the past with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Significant numbers of patrol, ambulance and other emergency calls are now handled by the Crisis Response Team.
  • Small City Honorable Mention: York – Group Violence Intervention Initiative
    Launched five years ago to reduce group-related — sometimes called gang-related — violence with a focus on individual group members. Law enforcement’s role is to send a clear message about the legal consequences of continued violence. The community’s role is to address the root causes of violence and provide opportunities for education, employment, and social services. A third component brings together Initiative staff and others in the community whose backgrounds are similar to the at-risk individuals targeted, using them to establish trust and offer mentorship. A program titled More Graduations, Less Funerals provides workforce development scholarships to individuals who were perpetrators OR victims of gun violence. Between 2022 to 2023 York experienced an 80% reduction in group-member-involved shootings and a 36% drop in overall gun violence.