Laysha Ward

On June 4, in the opening session of the 2022 Annual Meeting of the  U.S. Conference of Mayors in Reno, Laysha Ward, Executive Vice President & Chief External Engagement Officer for the Target Corporation, announced the winners of the second round of grants awarded through the Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program, a joint effort of the Conference of Mayors and Target aimed at identifying, supporting, and promoting police policies and initiatives in cities shown to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents. In this second funding round, 32 cities submitted applications for grants; a panel of judges composed of former mayors, top police executives and a social justice expert selected a single grant winner in each of the program’s three city population categories: large (population over 300,000), mid-size (population in the 100,000 – 300,000 range), and small (population under 100,000).

2022 Grant Award Winners

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

Currently operating out of the Police Department’s 8th District, LEAD is an initiative targeting individuals who cycle in and out of a criminal legal system that has relied on arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Over 70% of the city’s disproportionately Black jail population is on the mental health caseload. Through LEAD, police officers exercise discretionary authority to divert individuals with mental problems into community-based case management at NAMI New Orleans, the city’s nonprofit mental health service provider and the host of the program. LEAD-eligible charges include non-violent municipal offenses related to substance use, serious mental illness, and trauma. Case management is low-barrier and client-centered: clients, who meet with NAMI staff on the streets, are not discharged for “non-compliance,” and progress at their own pace. LEAD case management staff work with courts, facilitating clients’ court date attendance and, in some cases, having charges dropped. Early data on clients one year before LEAD enrollment and one year after show significant drops in police summons, arrests, total time in jail, and average length of jail.

A grant of $175,000 was awarded for LEAD. New Orleans wants to take the program city-wide; a three-pronged development plan includes geographic expansion, expansion of referral streams, and expansion of LEAD-eligible legal charges. The grant program judges applauded last year’s relaunch of the program to focus on advancing racial justice; they saw it as thoughtfully designed and effectively executed by a well-qualified organization in a collaborative effort with the Police Department at its core. Information is available from Kate Hoadley, Racial Justice Program Manager, at kate.hoadley@nola.gov or 504-658-4989.

Mid-Size City: Irving – Shop Talk

Developed by the Irving (TX) Police Department in 2016 in the wake of the murder of five officers, the Shop Talk program is an outreach initiative that bridges the gap between the African American community and law enforcement, introducing officers in places where residents would feel comfortable and be open to sharing their concerns. Through the leadership of a single officer, the program won the support of local barbershop owners; it now includes 30 shops and additional salons and is supported by more than 100 officers. A typical Shop Talk session is a random, impromptu visit to a barbershop and wide-ranging discussions covering issues and concerns and providing information – discussions that improve community relations and develop trust. Shop Talk also includes quarterly luncheons that enable shop owners to communicate directly with the Irving Police Chief and has added a licensed clinical social worker who can assist barbers in identifying patrons who may be in need of mental health services. Owners have partnered with the Police Department in hosting back-to-school events and with the Irving Library to have books placed in their shops.

A grant of $100,000 was awarded to Irving to aid expansion of the program to include other minority-owned (Hispanic) shops, additional back-to-school events, Shop Talk informational sessions, marketing and outreach, and other program enhancements. The judges appreciated the fact that interaction between officers and community residents is occurring in a setting in which all involved can feel comfortable talking about issues and concerns – a setting in which trust shared by residents and officers can more easily develop. The judges also viewed it as an initiative easily replicated by other police departments. More information on the program is available from Officer Jon Plunkett at jplunkett@cityofirving.org or 469-261-9719.

Small City: Central Falls – The Leading Ladies Initiative

In Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest and most densely populated city, high percentages of children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level and attend schools that have high dropout rates. Underway for two years, this program unites community-minded women with diverse professional backgrounds with underserved teenage girls. The Central Falls Police Department reaches out to the professional women who will be acting as mentors and to local school districts that in turn select approximately 15 female students likely to benefit from having a mentor who would encourage them to manage their learning to maximize their potential. Along with education about law enforcement and other career fields, the teenagers are given advice on how to prepare for higher education, interviews, and obstacles, including racist and misogynistic hurdles, they can expect to encounter. As part of the program, mentors and girls shop together for clothing appropriate for the workplace and have lunch or dinner together at a local restaurant.

A grant of $75,000 was awarded to Central Falls for this program. The City wants to enable the Police Department to operate the program twice each year, include boys, expand learning experiences, and offer tutoring and scholarships. The judges appreciated the fact that this program focuses attention on girls in challenged communities – acknowledging that boys are far more often targeted in such communities – and relies on the volunteer efforts of women able to serve as both mentors and career models. This was seen as a low-cost initiative that could easily be replicated and managed by other police departments. Information is available from Mayor Maria Rivera at mayorsoffice@centralfallsri.us or 401-727-7474.

Other City Models

For each of the three population funding categories, summary descriptions of programs and initiatives submitted for grant consideration by the balance of the 32 cities follow in this section. For each city, a contact person who can provide detailed information is included.

Cities With Populations Over 300,000

Charlotte

CMPD Serves

In 2020, the Charlotte Police Department achieved full compliance with “8 Can’t Wait” Campaign Zero policies and launched an initiative aimed at excellent public service. In 2021, the Department launched CMPD Serves, a strategic approach, and curriculum, focused on customer engagement and positive interactions between police and community that accrue to the benefit of both. Civilian employees and sworn officers at all levels were involved in curriculum development covering modernized communications, videos, and role playing and engagement scenarios. In the first year, more than 2,500 employees participated in 1.5 hour on-line and 4-hour in-person training. The return on investment has been strong, as demonstrated in C-SAT (customer satisfaction) score improvements from 2020-2021: relationship building scores of “above average” increased from 34% to 87%; customer experience scores of “above average” increased from 48% to 83%. More information on Charlotte’s program is available from Sandra Vastola, Administrative Services Manager, at Sandra.vastola@cmpd.org or 980-253-4918,

Chicago

Violence Reduction (VR) Dashboard

The City’s first-of-its-kind Violence Reduction Dashboard, launched in 2021, uses real-time data on impact of violence across 77 demographically diverse communities. Instead of focusing on violent incidents, the traditional law-enforcement approach, the VR dashboard focuses on the victims of violence. Any given crime incident may be associated with more than one victim; shifting the focus from incidents to victims provides a better understanding of the lived experiences of individuals affected by violence and recognition of how violence impacts individuals of different race, sex, age, and geographical location differently. The dashboard highlights the City’s response to violence by providing critical information on violence reduction programs for citywide interventions and specifically the top 15 priority communities which were identified as communities with the greatest average of homicides and non-fatal shooting victims between 2018 and 2020. It also enables the government and community-based organizations to coordinate efforts to interrupt and prevent violence. Showing the ever-changing trends of violence, the City can prioritize resource allocation in the communities most impacted and enable street outreach and victim services organizations to adjust their operations according to trends. More information on the VR Dashboard is available from Golnar Trimouri, Policy Advisor for Research and Data, Public Safety, at golnar.teimouri@cityofchicago.org or 312-744-1710.

Cleveland

Co-Responder Team

Beginning as a pilot project in one district in 2016 and expanding citywide in 2020, Cleveland’s co-responder model pairs a police officers and a crisis worker who respond to calls for service for mental health crises in each of Cleveland’s five Neighborhood Police Districts. Police detectives have received advanced Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and volunteered for the assignment. Crisis workers are hired by community organizations and have experience in social work. In operation, regular patrol officers who have basic CIT training respond to calls, ensure the safety of the scene and conduct an initial investigation before calling in the Co-Responder Team when appropriate. The Co-Responder Team will assess the client and determine the appropriate course of action, which might include transporting them to a hospital or referring them to an agency for services. Focused as much on police accountability as on mental health, the program is seen as a fourth option to 911 calls for service that will reduce unnecessary incarceration, build capacity, and ensure residents get the care they need. From December 2020 through February 2022 the teams received 2,212 referrals and were able to connect with 68% of the individuals in crisis. Of the referrals received, 83.3% were not repeat calls. There have been no incidents of deadly force at CIT incidents. More information on Cleveland’s program is available from Dawn Heartsong, Public Safety Grants Coordinator, at DHeartsong@Clevelandohio.gov or 216-6235126.

 

Kansas City, MO

Westside Community Action Network (WCAN) Center Community Policing

Kansas City’s Westside community has long been home to immigrants from Mexico, Central, and Latin America. In the 1990s, when it was inundated with gang violence, WCAN was established to triage issues and, while community policing was implemented to address escalating crime and disorder, hardline tactics eroded trust between police and residents. This changed in 2002 when two officers committed to becoming part of the community, to communicate openly and frequently with the community, to partner with social service agencies, government agencies and local businesses, and to actively participate in problem solving initiatives. The focus has included attacking root causes of crime, connecting residents to a wide range of needed services, and working directly with residents on prevention of problems such as domestic violence, drug use, and bullying. The WCAN Center is staffed by a combination of service-oriented civilians and sworn police officers: the civilians oversee the deployment of social services, a codes officer, and volunteers; the police officers work out of a fully functioning substation at the Center. Once consistently at the top of the list of areas of high-volume 911 calls, Westside’s calls today are down 70%, crime is down 65%, homeowners’ insurance rates have dropped 60%, and the first new neighborhood school in Kansas City in decades has been built in the Westside. More information on Kansas City’s program is available from Melesa Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff and General Counsel, at Melesa.Johnson@kcmo.org or 816-513-6582.

Philadelphia

Procedurally Just Youth Engagement (PJYE)

 

 A citywide Philadelphia Police Department effort underway since October 2021, PJYE is part of the Department’s effort to repair the relationship between police and the community. In an intentional effort to involve the city’s youth in the conversation, the program targets 14-18-year-old youth who are currently in schools or engaged with the Department’s Police Athletic League (PAL) branches. Operating across the PPD’s six divisions and led by its Community Relations Bureau, the program is facilitated by a minority- and woman-owned firm. Police personnel at all levels have participated in the listening sessions held with the youth that have focused on circumstances that have contributed to misunderstanding, how engagement with PPD personnel has impacted the youth, and what participants need do to repair harm and come to an understanding. More information on PJYE is available from Blake Norton, Chief Strategy Officer, Philadelphia Police Department at blake.norton@phila.gov or 215-512-4147.

 

St. Louis

911 Diversion and Crisis Response Units (CRU)

 

Prior to the establishment of this program in February 2021, all emergency and non-emergency calls in the city were handled by the police dispatchers. Officers responded to calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises without adequate training, appropriate resources, or clinical assistance. Officers now respond to these calls with a licensed clinician to assist individuals who may be experiencing a behavioral health crisis or traumatic event. The Police Department believes the “St. Louis Model” is the only 911 diversion model to be simultaneously implemented with a co-responder program that involves the mandatory transfer of appropriately screened 911 behavioral health calls to an external crisis line on a 24/7 basis, and the only model in which clinicians spend their entire shift with a police officer responding to a wide range of calls, deescalating situations, stabilizing individuals, and connecting them to needed resources. CRU has handled over 4,673 calls for service and conducted 5,740 client assessments, with 1% of calls resulting in an arrest and over 900 emergency medical service transports and 700 hospitalizations averted. A 2021 analysis indicated that over 2,000 employee hours were saved. The Mayor’s Office has dedicated a director to assist with program oversight and the Department of Public Safety has created a full-time Program Manager and four Client Service Coordinator positions. More information on CRU is available from Heather Taylor at taylorh@stlouis-mo.gov or 314-703-1959.

 

San Diego

Use of Force Study

 

Because the use of force can be a source of friction between police and communities and can lead to concerns about possible inequitable treatment of minority community members, and to ensure the San Diego Police Department uses force equitably, only when necessary, and in keeping with the best practices of leading law enforcement agencies in the nation, the Department is undertaking a use of force study that examines how it uses force, possible racial or ethnic disparities when force is applied, injuries to civilians and/or police officers, and patterns of escalation and de-escalation within use of force incidents. The study also will examine officers and trainers to explore perceptions of the need for force and whether/why force is used disproportionately in some areas of the city. More information is available from Captain Jeffrey Jordan at jjordon@pd.sandiego.gov or 619-531-2701.

Cities with Populations in 100,000 – 300,000 Range

 

Allentown

Opening Two-Way Communication with the Community

 

The Allentown Police Department’s outreach to the community has four components: 1) A six-week Citizens Academy familiarizes participants with police operations and provides an opportunity to discuss their community concerns; Academy meetings are conducted in English and Spanish. 2) A youth mentorship program, now in its third year, addresses issues such as drugs, gangs and bullying; the current program includes 41 students, ages 12 to 17. Officers mentoring students stress the value of taking accountability for one’s actions and the importance of academic achievement. 3) The Police Academy conducts annual training with sworn personnel on subjects that include cultural diversity, interaction with citizens, policy, ethics, and related topics. All 212 Officers receive additional training in the history of policing, racial profiling awareness, and implicit bias training taught by the Pennsylvania State Police heritage unit. 4) Every member of the Police Department is provided initial training and encouraged to participate in a five-day Crisis Intervention Training course taught collaboratively by health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and community service groups. Officers receive refresher training every three years to stay updated on current services and procedures. More information is available from Maria Quigney, HUD Grants Manager, at maria.quigney@allentownpa.gov or 610-437-7761.

Amarillo

Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) Unit

 

Amarillo’s NPO Unit provides designated geographic areas – neighborhoods – with the services of police officers who concentrate their efforts in accordance with the philosophy of Community Oriented Policing and Problem Oriented Policing. The selection of a neighborhood assigned an NPO is based upon a variety of factors including crime trends, statistics on calls for service, and visual blight and renovation/revitalization needs. NPOs are assigned to a neighborhood on a semi-permanent basis and strive to become familiar with and to community members. They provide residents with a central source of assistance for both law enforcement and non-law enforcement problems. Selected officers within the Unit are also assigned to the resolution of specific, identified problems which may occur throughout the city. The goal of the NPO Unit is to form a partnership with the residents of the community with the goal of reducing crime and fear of crime and enhancing quality of life within that community. Officers are expected to be out of their cars, walking, and on bicycles, interacting with people in their assigned area. Officers assigned to the NPO Unit receive specialized training, equipment, and scheduling flexibility to fulfill this goal, and are encouraged to be innovative and proactive in problem-solving crime prevention. More information on the NPO Unit is available from Neighborhood Police Sergeant Wesley Brown at wesley.brown@amrillo.gov or 806-681-4977.

Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative

 

The purposes of this initiative are to foster meaningful dialogue and reconciliation among law enforcement agencies and the communities of color they serve, to increase the capacity of victim services programs, and to address officer health and wellness. It was established in 2017 in a period of racial unrest under a U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime grant. The Police Department, as administrator, engaged 100 Black Men of Metro Baton (100 Black Men) as a core partner. The organization hosted events that instructed its mentees in safe engagement with law enforcement officers. These sessions became the basis of a five-part educational curriculum. Events held in school and church settings reached over 600 students and their parents. A project manager hired by the Police Department has coordinated with agency leadership to oversee Initiative activities and resolve barriers to implementation.  A Victims Assistance Coordinator position created two years ago is filled by a seasoned detective assigned to assist victims of violent crimes and domestic violence, referring them to services and resources that are available and helping them navigate through the criminal justice system, and an LGBT Liaison Officer position also has been created. A Cadet Program and Explorers Program introduce young people to law enforcement as a potential career. More information is available from Sergeant Vanpheng Nitchin, Grant Project Director, at vnitchin@brla.gov or 225-939-8283.

 

Bridgeport

Juvenile Response Team

 

Bridgeport is the most populous city in Connecticut and one of the most impoverished. Among residents, 38% identify as Hispanic/Latino, 32% as Black/African American. The Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) first implemented the Juvenile Response Team/School Resource Officer Program in 2011 in response to the high volume of juveniles being arrested in the public schools. This was done in conjunction with the Safe Corridors Program developed jointly with the Board of Education to maintain blocks-long perimeters around public schools where police patrols insulate children and youth from the violent crime in the surrounding neighborhoods. The Team uses a proven model to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that adversely affects low-income populations of color; this includes a Juvenile Review Board, a juvenile court diversionary program that offers police officers an alternative to arrest. Youth who have committed minor delinquent acts or who are displaying at-risk behaviors at home, in school, or in the community are referred to a panel of volunteers that utilizes restorative practices to help them understand the consequences of their actions. Referred youth then engage in community service and receive counseling, mentoring, and educational support. Formation of the Juvenile Response Team represents both a policy and a cultural shift for BPD that has resulted in a nearly 70% reduction in arrests over the past five years. More information is available from Isolina DeJesus, Director of Central Grants, at isolina.dejesus@bridgeportct.gov or 203-576-7134.

Fayetteville, NC

Fayetteville Police Department Wellness Initiative

 

In Fayetteville, a Wellness Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss ways to improve the health and wellness of all City employees and a Health and Wellness Specialist is on staff to provide health coaching for any employee interested. Launched in 2018, a Wellness Initiative began with creation of a wellness space in the Police Department headquarters building for use by all employees. The space includes a BioSound Therapy bed and other items that create a calm and quiet escape for employees while on duty. Psychological services have been added and the Department’s Peer Support Team activated. Among holistic services available are yoga, meditation, infrared therapy, and cryotherapy. Department personnel have received training in racial equity, diversity, and inclusion from trainers across the country, along with mental health first aid training, Blue Courage training, and financial wellness training. As a member of the national “30×30” initiative, the Department has made purchases that create a more inclusive wellness space for female officers. A consultant is conducting a macro-level program evaluation and content analysis of the overall initiative and will be providing a three-year strategic plan for moving forward. More information is available from Lisa Long, Accreditation and Grant Manager, at lisalong@fayettevillenc.gov or 910-433-1423.

Fontana

Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST)

 

COAST is a multi-discipline mental health intervention team consisting of a police officer, a social worker, a firefighter, and Scout, an emotional support dog. It responds to calls from the community that come into the dispatch centers of the Fontana Police Department and Fire Department, and to emails, phone calls and texts.  The Team operates four days a week, 10 hours a day. Its objectives include improving quality of life of those in the community needing help with mental health issues and providing them emotional support and resources including food and clothing, medical aid, and transportation. The Team also works to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness through education and example. The emotional support dog on the Team has been able to open doors to reach those needing service who are reluctant to talk to people. The compassion demonstrated by the Team’s members has resulted in improved relationships between first responders and those in the community suffering from mental illness and their families. More information is available from Officer Michael Hall, COAST Coordinator, at mhall@fontana.org or 909-709-0637.

Lansing

Mayor’s Racial Justice and Equity Alliance (MRJEA)

 

MRJEA was created in July 2020 to begin the process of rooting out structural racism and advancing equity and police reform in the city. Through it, department directors would work with diverse community members appointed to the MRJEA to develop racial justice, equity training and action plans to positively impact a wide range of City responsibilities, including public safety. Immediate actions taken by the Mayor and Police Department included eliminating secondary stops (for defective equipment, tinted windows, etc.); prohibiting “No Knock” searches; conducting police reconciliation training; implementing officer implicit bias and human policing (police-youth interaction) training; publishing a police transparency page on the City’s website; implementing “Hope Not Handcuffs” programming; expanding community policing, beginning with one additional community police officer; and other actions. The Mayor also hired the City’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and in August 2021 approved a DEI training plan developed by the MRJEA. A Civilian Investigator is now the starting point for citizen complaints, and LPD is in the development phase of establishing a Civilian Police Oversight Board. Mandated yearly training for officers covers De-escalation; Active Bystander for Law Enforcement; Bias; Micro aggression and active listening; and LGBTQ interactions.  A yearly wellness check is mandated for every officer. In a new public information process, LPD’s social media postings will promote and enhance police and community transparency. Two social workers are currently funded for the LPD and a crisis de-escalation team has been proposed by the Mayor. More information is available from Guadalupe Ayala, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, at guadalupe.ayala@lansingmi.gov or 517-483-4005.

Norfolk

Police Co-Responder Program

 

 The Norfolk Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) was created in 2015 to help relieve patrol officers on duty from mental health-related calls and free them up to handle normal calls for service. There are three modes of operation for the CIT officers: a roving detail works two five-hour shifts, Sunday through Thursday, with up to four officers using two cars; at the CIT Assessment Center there are two six-hour shifts, Monday through Thursday, with up to two officers working each shift; and at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital there are two five-hour shifts, Friday through Monday, with up to two officers per shift. Overall, use of force on persons with mental health-related issues is down since the introduction of the CIT program, and families of individuals with mental health issues often speak highly of the care that is given to their loved ones by the officers. More information is available from Sergeant Michael Fayton at michael.fayton@norfolk.gov or 757-664-6390.

Providence

Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT)

 

The Providence Police Department launched BHRT in 2017 to increase its capacity to respond to the behavioral health needs of residents and increase access to comprehensive case management for low/at-risk offenders. Individuals eligible for BHRT services are identified based on previous calls made by residents, mainly for public nuisance offenses like intoxication, loitering, and trespassing. Once identified, subjects are approached by a clinician who has been transported in a police vehicle and given the choice to enroll in BHRT services. If they agree to services, they are provided case management until connected with behavioral healthcare services. Mirroring the BHRT and EMS Department is encouraging program participation by making responses to overdose, mental health and social service calls more sensitive to race, gender, culture and language of persons served, and is minimizing Police Department involvement in calls not presenting public safety threats. Responders use a 5-person SUV rather than traditional medical and public safety vehicles. Forty percent of persons treated by this unit have been redirected away from hospitals to primary care providers or were treated at home. More information on BHRT is available from Bret Jacob, Director of Research and Development, LGBTQIA+ Liaison, at bjacob@providenceri.gov or 401-680-5751.

 

Rochester, MN

Police Assisted Recovery & Co-Responder Program (PAR)

 

The Rochester Police Department’s PAR program, which offers a non-arrest pathway to treatment and recovery for individuals struggling with substance use disorder, is a collaboration between the Department and a multi-disciplinary team of local non-profit organizations, treatment providers, private entities, and other government agencies. Approximately 25% of patrol officers are selected to become Recovery Specialists and receive training to guide residents toward resources on their path toward sobriety. Prior to the PAR program, an officer’s options to assist people fighting addiction were limited to providing transportation to detox, the emergency room, or jail. Today, as Recovery Specialists, they are available for consultation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since its inception in 2019, the program has evolved, now having several social workers working out of the Department and responding to crisis calls with officers to provide immediate assistance, including on-site mental health and substance recovery support. With this co-responder model, many crisis calls are deescalated, fewer end in arrest., and subjects are put on pathways to treatment and mental and substance disorder health resources. The Department funds designated “bed space” at separate recovery pre-treatment residential sites for men and women, enabling officers and social workers to reduce the waiting time for treatment services for those they assist. More information on PAR is available from Sarah Clayton, Administrative Services Manager, at sclayton@rochestermn.gov or 507-328-2988.

Rochester, NY

Person in Crisis (PIC) Team

 

Launched in January 2021, the PIC Team provides a non-law enforcement response to mental health, behavioral health, family trouble, and substance abuse crises on an around-the-clock basis. Teams of two social workers are dispatched through 911 and 211 to respond to the crises, with and without police. Crisis calls are screened for PIC suitability and acuity. For the most acute calls and those in which a weapon is involved, both a PIC Team and police officers are dispatched to the scene; for lower acuity calls, a PIC Team will go alone. All PIC calls are followed up within 24 hours to ensure that clients are connected to the community resources they need. Incidents involving police officers, youth, and persons experiencing mental health crises prompted the City to form a team based on the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) model developed in Eugene, Oregon. With this model in Rochester, crisis situations are de-escalated, follow-up services such as case management and connection to resources are provided, and hospitalizations and arrests are avoided. Rochester’s PIC Team is the only mobile crisis program of its kind in the State of New York. More information is available from Tamara Mayberry, Chief of Staff, City of Rochester, at Tamara.Mayberry@CityofRochester.Gov or 585-428-6041.

St. Petersburg

Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL)

 

 A city-wide nonpolice response to nonviolent and noncriminal calls for service requested by the St. Petersburg community began in January 2021 as a nine-month pilot and was extended into a two-year contract. A partnership between the Police Department and a community-based nonprofit, Gulf Coast JFCS, the initiative is designed to strengthen community trust, divert people from the criminal justice system, and change thinking about community policing. CALL services are available seven days a week, 8:00 a.m. to Midnight. CALL assesses the situation, de-escalates as needed, identifies immediate needs, makes direct referrals, develops client safety and support plans, and continues to follow up with the client. The CALL team has made nearly 3,000 contacts with individuals and provided their 24/7 resource line approximately 700 times, potentially diverting calls from emergency services. Overall, 73% of nonviolent/noncriminal mental health events were diverted to CALL; 60.3% of clients attended a follow-up visit or service coordinated by CALL; 93% of CALL responses are without law enforcement at final implementation; and no violent incidents or injuries have occurred. Officer buy-in has exceeded expectations, as the number of internal referrals is consistently high. CALL received 414 referrals in the pilot period and 513 in the period following through mid-April 2022. More information on CALL is available from Megan McGee, Special Projects Manager, at megan.mcgee@stpete.org or 727-892-5242.

Topeka

Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Training

The Topeka Police Department has been participating in Active Bystander for Law Enforcement training (a national project administered by Georgetown Law) for two years, with the program implemented at all levels. The Department has one Officer, two Sergeants, and one Captain who have been dedicated to the planning, implementation, and continuation of the ABLE program, training the rest of the Department and ensuring all are up do date on the program and attending the training conferences. The day-long training is presented in the Police Academy; in-service updates for all officers occur each year in two-hour blocks as the program is updated. The three pillars of ABLE training are to reduce mistakes, prevent misconduct, and promote health and wellness; heavy emphasis is placed on health and wellness because it significantly impacts the other two pillars. Among many other topics, ABLE training covers the importance of integrity, the fact that loyalty includes calling fellow officers out, and the costs of being a bystander instead of intervening. The feedback from officers has only been positive and includes peace of mind that comes from knowing that fellow officers are all on the same page. Peace of mind extends to the community as residents understand how ABLE training can affect their safety. More information on ABLE is available from Kalea Pauole, Senior Grants Program Administrator, at gkpauole@topeka.org or 785-368-3053.

Cities With Populations Under 100,000

Bloomfield, NJ

Creating a Resilient Environment (CARE)

 

In October 2021 the Bloomfield Police Department and the Health and Human Services Department partnered in a program in which social workers assisted police officers when they responded to service calls involving residents’ mental health crises, suicidal tendencies, substance use disorders and homelessness, and calls involving vulnerable elderly persons. Health and Human Services observed a pattern of recidivism among persons affected by mental health crises. Seeking to lower the number of these cases, the CARE Unit developed a follow-up/outreach system in which they attempt to respond to each reported incident that is forwarded to them. Follow-up consists of phone calls, door knocks, and visits to homes of those in need of assistance, and outreach to family members or caregivers of the individuals involved. In the first quarter of 2022 the CARE Unit received 186 police reports requesting follow-up; these have resulted in 105 residents engaging with service providers and 687 referrals for services for them. More information on CARE is available from Lieutenant Mark Moskal at mmoskal@bloomfieldnjpd.com or 973-680-4104.

Doral, FL

Community Policing in a Multicultural Community Initiative

 

An initiative aimed at building trust and bridging multi-cultural and social divisions resulting from perceptions of police that immigrants to Doral have formed in their country of origin has been planned in Doral where early 84% of the city’s population is Hispanic or Latino. Because many of these immigrants feel isolated from the law enforcement agencies that are sworn to protect them, they are less likely to report crime, making them and their neighborhoods less safe. Over the past 14 years the Doral Police Department has worked to establish partnerships and strengthen bonds with residents unfamiliar with traffic and other local laws, criminal justice procedures, and the judicial system. The new initiative will involve additional outreach to the immigrant community and coordination of workshops to help residents transition to life in the United State and the Doral community. The workshops will include panel discussions on topics relevant to immigrants, including the vision and goals of the Police Department, business issues, safety, immigration, traffic and citizenship information, and city codes and ordinances. Information will be presented in both English and Spanish and reference material distributed to all in attendance. More information is available from Acting Chief of Police Raul Ubieta at Raul.Ubieta@doralpd.com or 305-593-6699.

Eastpointe, MI

Crisis Intervention Team

Calls to the Police Department for service involving family problems, mental illness and substance abuse have increased steadily over the past few years. Recognizing a growing problem, the Department initiated a Crisis Intervention Team and contracted for CIT training for a group of officers. The CIT approach to behavioral health and law enforcement collaboration also includes policy development and establishment of drop-off sites for people in crisis who need evaluation. A policy that provides guidelines for interacting with individuals who may be experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis was drafted and put into practice in 2020. Goals are to reduce police officers’ injuries, reduce arrests of individuals with mental illness, minimize officers’ use of force, increase the community’s access to mental health services, and earn the community’s respect with dedication to this cause. More information is available from Deputy Chief of Police Matthew Merlo at mmerlo@eastpointecity.org or 586-445-8069.

Huntington, WV

Community Engagement and Public Health Endeavor [COPE]

 

With COPE, the Huntington Police Department is pioneering a community policing and public engagement endeavor aimed at bridging the gap between community and police. This program has been developed around the six pillars of 21st Century Community Policing. Citywide projects that support the COPE mission include development of a 311 system for the public to submit non-emergency service requests, development of a citywide diversity committee, and creation of a Diversity Development Coordinator position to ensure accountability and inclusion throughout City operations. While the Department already adhered to gold standard practices such as duty to intervene and restricted use of chokeholds, command staff created a committee to review all departmental policies in depth, tasked all officers to increase community interactions, and reached out to partner with multiple faith-based organizations such as the Black Pastors Association. Since his swearing in in November 2021, Karl Colder, the city’s first Black Chief of Police, has made it his mission to further community engagement and trust in Huntington neighborhoods. The Police Department has hired a Community Outreach Coordinator to build bonds among law enforcement, community institutions, service providers, citizen and neighborhood groups, local businesses, and others in a full community policing approach. Another Coordinator is being hired to expand engagement in every neighborhood, with the goal of improved public safety. COPE activities already underway have generated an increase in calls to the crime tip line and positive public commentary. More information is available from Bethany Veach, Grant Manager, Huntington Police Department, at Veachb@huntingtonwv.gov or 304-696-5510, ext. 1050.

Plainfield, NJ

QoL Task Force

 

The Task Force was originally formed three years ago when the Police Department began experiencing repeated calls to address instances of illegal activity in specific areas of the city. Weekly visits to these areas to ensure that no illegal activity was occurring resulted in positive interactions between officers and the city’s homeless population, prompting them to shift focus toward engaging with these individuals, establishing relationships, and providing needed assistance. Task Force support for this growing population takes the form of weekly verbal engagement, provision of health-related supplies such as blankets and PPE, and connections to resources such as addiction treatment, housing, and special needs services. With many of the homeless individuals suffering from addiction and other mental health issues, the Task Force has established partnerships with Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services and Prevention Links, organizations that are involved in outreach activities and work to connect these individuals with appropriate support services. While created three years ago, the Task Force has operated in its current form over the past year, with planning, implementation, and operation coordinated primarily by the Police Department. Task force membership today includes the City’s Fire Department, Department of Health, and Inspections Department. Outreach activities usually involve one to three people from each department. More information is available from Police Director James Abney at james.abney@plainfieldnj.gov or 908-753-3225.

Trenton, NJ

Resilience Increases Success & Excellence (RISE)

RISE is a city-wide, evidence-based model focusing on positive youth development and targeting male youths of color in a city that provides a less secure and more violent environment for children than most of New Jersey and the U.S. overall. In a recent focus group, about 90% of city youths knew someone who had been murdered or had been arrested for murder. The RISE model has demonstrated success for youths of color, addressing structural and social inequalities (socioeconomic inequalities, access to resources, the school to prison pipeline, school quality) impacting them. The effort has been underway for two years, although the second year was suspended temporarily due to COVID-19. Its eight components include: twice weekly guidance lessons using evidenced-based curricula; monthly cultural or career-based experiences to expose youth to different perspectives and career options; training related to implicit bias and trauma-informed care for program partners working with youth; monthly parent involvement events; case management across programming and partners; after-school tutoring; a six-week intensive summer camp program; and ongoing assessment and evaluation. More information is available from Lieutenant Alexis Durlacher at adurlacher@trentonpolice.net or 609-989-4064.

Waterloo, IA

Neighborhood Police Officers (NPOs)

 

The Waterloo Police Department implemented NPOs in 2020 with a goal of providing long-term, sustainable solutions to build police legitimacy in the community by consistently committing the same beat/ward officers to the same beat/ward(s) of the city. Thirty-three officers currently serve as NPOs; as frontline officers they are relied upon to develop relationships with formal and informal community leaders and establish strategic partnerships. Enhanced data-sharing among NPOs extends to a department-wide report on beats that is entered monthly into a database and forwarded through the chain of command to the Chief of Police and applicable members of City Council. The addition of a co-responder mental health law enforcement response has led to de-escalation of numerous crisis events without the application of force, early intervention strategies have reduced the incidence of aberrant officer behaviors, and there has been community cooperation in service to underrepresented and unhoused communities. The WPD reports that the NPO initiative, at least in the short term, has enabled it to meet strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) 21st Century Policing goals. More information is available from Captain Aaron McClelland at mcclellanda@waterloopolice.com or 319-291-4340, ext. 3213.

 

York, PA

Diverse Recruitment Initiative

 

In 2020, the York City Police Department enacted a proactive recruitment approach with a recruitment team made up of a diverse group of officers, each of whom is tasked with recruiting in a specific targeted population. With the goal of recruiting those with a public service mindset, recruiters build relationships and demonstrate to candidates that the Police Department cares about them and is invested in their joining the organization. A paid police cadet program provides an opportunity for high school graduates interested in law enforcement but below minimum age for service to become familiar with the environment and prepare for a career. The Police Department strives to reflect the community served and through targeted recruiting has increased its diverse workforce from 12.2% in 2019 to 26% in 2022 with a goal of greater diversity in the coming years. Expanded bilingual capabilities better serve the city’s diverse citizens and officers as a group now speak Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin and Arabic. Civil service points are now awarded to city residents who are testing for the police force, with additional points going to bilingual candidates. Because diverse work roles can result in greater job satisfaction the Department offers assignments in a violence intervention unit, special operations division, therapy dog division, community resource division, juvenile engagement, and the school resource officer program, as well as opportunities for promotion into leadership roles. More information is available from Melanie Baldwin, Grants Development and Special Projects Analyst, at mbaldwin@yorkcity.org or 717-854-1477.

Youngstown, OH

Mental Health Advocates

 

The Youngstown Police Department has had success with its Community Police Unit and since the beginning of the year has been working on expanding its focus to address growing mental health concerns. Currently, when an officer is in contact with a person showing clear signs of mental health issues, that person would be taken to the main hospital and admitted under a “watch” order. With Mental Health Advocates in place, services available to subjects experiencing mental health issues would include crisis counseling, referrals directly into behavioral health services, linkages with legal advocacy at the prosecutor’s office, accompaniment to police and medical exams/interviews, assistance with Crime Victims Compensation applications and VINE, and referrals to social services. Advocates also would act as liaisons between investigating officers and detectives, as needed. Development of this new endeavor has been underway since the beginning of this year. More information is available from Gayle Slattery, Program Analyst, at g.slattery@youngstownohio.gov or 330-742-8718.

2021 Grant Program