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May 2017

Police and Community Relations: Fostering a Shared Vision for Safe Communities by Applying Principles from Prevention Science

From Left: Dr. Tom Tyler, Dr. Richard Dudley, Lamontre Randall, Dr. Michael B. Greene, Craig Futterman, Colonel Hugh T. Clemments, Jr.

On May 16, 2017, the NPSC hosted a briefing with nationally recognized experts on police-community relations from the perspective of prevention science, which offers some solutions that have not yet been widely implemented. 


Recent incidents around the country have drawn the attention of the public, law enforcement agencies, and policy-makers alike given the apparent breakdown in communication between the police and citizens.  Both parties have in common the goals to create safe communities, prevent trauma and foster well-being.  Collaborative approaches that braid together the work of multiple sectors (including law enforcement, local residents, activists, and community leaders) promise to achieve these goals for all concerned.


This briefing focused on the available data on police community relationships and articulated promising policies and programs that can improve these relationships and boost safety and wellbeing.  Several strategies and initiatives generated by prevention science were presented.  Although policing is a local undertaking, the federal role is primarily in organizing its funding procedures and providing legislative guidance to enable the kinds of evidence-based initiatives that are needed.  Our speakers provided an overview of the challenges to enhancing police and community relations, presented scientific solutions, and discussed policy implications. 

Michael B. Greene, Ph.D.

Rutgers University

Welcome and introductory remarks by the moderator

Peter Newsham

Washington, DC Chief of Police

Welcome and introductory remarks

Tom Tyler, Ph.D.

Professor, Yale Law School

Police Legitimacy and Community Trust/Cooperation: Discussed the nature, dynamics, and racial disparities regarding police legitimacy and community trust in, and citizen cooperation with, police. Procedural justice approaches, cultural understanding, and community participation were highlighted in the context of the current state of affairs in police-community relationships.

Craig Futterman, J.D.

Professor, University of Chicago Law School and Director of the Civil Rights & Police Accountability Project

Community Perspective: Discussed and reported on the lived experiences of local young urban residents in their routine encounters with the police: their fears, their hopes, what they think should change and how. Any discussion of change must acknowledge and address these perspectives.

Colonel Hugh T. Clemments, Jr.

Police Chief, Providence, R.I.

Policing Perspective: Police reform can only be accomplished with the endorsement and support from law enforcement. Recognizing that changes must be made,  the importance of cultural change from within police departments, implicit bias, training, transparency and accountability, and collaboration (particularly in the area of mental health) were discussed.

Dr. Richard Dudley

Psychiatrist, NYC Private Practice

Trauma and Police Discretion: Discussed how a police officer can most appropriately respond to traumatized youth, even if the officer has his or her own history of exposure to trauma.

Nancy La Vigne, Ph.D.

Director, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute

Presentations were summarized and Lamontre Randall, Chair of Baltimore Youth’s Advisory Committee, joined the speakers for a panel discussion and described his work and perspective on urban policing.

Panel Discussion facilitated by Dr. Nancy La Vigne.

Additional Reading

For more information about policing including additional literature, contact:

Dr. Michael B. Greene, Chair, Violence Prevention Working Group, National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives;

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