Associate Attorney General Tony West announced, at the Strengthening the Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color Forum in New York City on April 4, 2014, a major new Department of Justice initiative aimed at enhancing public safety by strengthening relationships between law enforcement and communities. Under a new solicitation the DOJ is committing up to $4.75 million to establish the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice.This initiative – which will be jointly supported by the Office of Justice Programs, COPS Office, Civil Rights Division, Office on Violence Against Women, and Community Relations Service – will expand the base of knowledge about what works to improve procedural fairness, reduce bias, and promote racial reconciliation. It will help communities address the challenges arising from suspicion, distrust and lack of confidence in our law enforcement agencies.
This effort will encompass a broad range of areas in which fairness and trust are implicated -- from stops and searches to wrongful convictions. A team of cross-disciplinary experts will fuel the initiative by conducting research, piloting and testing innovative ideas, developing models for rigorous evaluation, and disseminating the latest research and best practices to the field. U.S. Attorneys will lead coordination efforts with five pilot sites that will implement and test strategies focused on procedural justice, implicit bias, and racial reconciliation.
The initiative will engage an array of criminal and juvenile justice agencies, including law enforcement, probation, parole, and the courts; as well as community stakeholders, like faith-based groups and victim service organizations.
The goal is to build on the pioneering work already underway in some of America’s most challenged areas and to open doors of cooperation that will ultimately lead to safer and healthier communities.
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