In December 2014, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to identify strategies that improve police and community relations and effectively reduce crime. In May 2015, the Task Force published its recommendations: the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This report aims to help law enforcement agencies “build trust between citizens and their peace officers.”
A Roadmap for the Future
The Task Force’s Final Report offers law enforcement agencies a road map for improvement through promising practices from national policing experts. Promising practices are initiatives, strategies or policies that have proven positive outcomes and are well regarded by experts in the field. By contrast, promising practices are not anecdotes with very little evidence nor are they rigorously researched and peer-reviewed.
For law enforcement agencies looking to reform or needing assistance in identifying areas of improvement, the Final Report is a seminal piece of literature. However, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Law enforcement agency leaders should read a number of promising practice publications in conjunction with the Final Report.
4 Key Resources for Law Enforcement Leaders
The following are just a few of the resources available to law enforcement agencies and their senior executives looking for assistance in improving their respective departments and their relationships with the communities they serve.
- The United States Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) has an online Resource Center with a searchable database of publications on a wide variety of topics, including Foundations of Community Policing, Hiring, Recruitment and Retention, and Police Operations. Key publications include Community Policing Defined and Standards and Guidelines for Internal Affairs: Recommendations from a Community of Practice.
- George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-based Crime Policy has a research program dedicated to evidenced-based policing. The Evidence-Based Policing Research Program helps translate academic and field research into practice for law enforcement agencies. For example, the Program has developed an Evidence-Based Policing Matrix, a visual representation of strategies effective in reducing crime.
- The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a think tank based in Washington, D.C., specializes in police research and policy and cultivates expertise from law enforcement leaders. Their publications include Guiding Principles on Use of Force and Constitutional Policing as a Cornerstone of Community Policing.
- The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a professional law enforcement association, is dedicated to advancing the field through education and research. The Association has a searchable eLIBRARY that includes Smaller Agency Best Practices Guides (e.g., “Internal Affairs for Smaller Departments” and “Strategic Planning: Building Strong Police Community Partnerships in Small Towns”) and Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness.
There are approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, each with varying size and resources. Due to this scope, there is an increasing need for standardization across all agencies. Adopting promising practices is crucial for the field because they promote effective strategies in a standardized way while also accounting for quality control. This requires law enforcement agencies to be well-read in promising practices. And since this is an evolving field, it is important to check promising practice sources frequently as new information is constantly posted.