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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

February 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 2

photoIn many parts of the United States, particularly in communities of color, there is a never-ending struggle to bridge the divide between police and a citizenry they took an oath to protect. Due to the ubiquity of social media and smartphones with video technology, over the past decade the American public has borne witness to a seemingly endless stream of viral videos showing police-citizen altercations, and which have generated intense political discourse and heated public safety debates.

It is within this context that The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership was born, founded by three Black corporate executives who are graduates of Howard University School of Law. The Initiative brings together local leaders, communities, and progressive police departments to implement effective community policing solutions to create mutual respect and healthy relationships between police and the communities they serve.

The Initiative was founded on the premise that we must push through our differences and work with each other to heal the community-police divide, re-envision public safety, and build safer communities where we are all seen and heard. Relying on their expertise as legal and compliance professionals, the founders of The Initiative developed CENTRAL™, an evidence-based visualization tool to assess and measure the effectiveness of police agencies across the United States in community-oriented policing. Essentially, CENTRAL measures an agency’s readiness to engage in community-oriented policing.

Why Community-Oriented Policing?

Community-oriented policing is a philosophy of policing whereby a police agency organizes itself, trains its officers, and implements policies that prepare officers to engage with citizens to work in a collaborative and proactive manner to further public safety. It is through these day-to-day, positive and productive interactions that trust and respect between citizens and police officers can form. These interactions allow members of the community--that is, both the police and the local stakeholders they serve—to develop stronger relationships, in order to rewrite negative narratives or biases that groups might hold against each other. In short, the primary goal of community-oriented policing is to reverse the erosion of public trust in law enforcement for the ultimate purpose of building stronger and safer communities.

CENTRAL is an evidence-based assessment and visualization tool that enables police departments to measure the effectiveness of their approach to community policing across three critical areas: community engagement, officer training, and organizational development (figure 1). A score is then generated in each of these areas and measured against other participating police agencies (anonymized and aggregated), and overlaid with publicly available crime statistics, such as Part I crimes, from the FBI’s UCR database (figure 2). “While the tenets of Community Policing—developing community partnerships, engaging in problem solving, and implementing community policing organizational features—date back to the 1970s, we didn’t have the benefit of the power of 21st century data and analytics,” said Chief Stoney Mathis of the Fairburn (Georgia) Police Department and one of The Initiative’s strategic advisors. “We believe that providing this kind of analytical power to police agencies and communities will accelerate the partnerships that are needed to build trust, reduce tensions, and promote the kind of environment change needed for systemic change.”

photoThe Initiative believes that greater efficacy in community-oriented policing will translate into better crime statistics. As another key advisor to The Initiative, Jiles Ship, current president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers – New Jersey (NOBLE NJ), has stated, “There is no question that police agencies that incorporate community policing effectively, such that they can improve the level of trust with members of the community, will see increases in their solve rates and decreases in crime.” The Initiative firmly believes that all stakeholders’ must be seen and heard. As such, The Initiative is currently developing a community-facing portal that will allow community stakeholders to assess their communities’ public safety, their local police, and other areas impacting community health. The results from these community scorecards would provide police leadership and community leaders with important information about the needs of their communities. These results can also be tracked overtime to gauge improvements.

The Initiative launched the CENTRAL proof of concept in November 2020, and while several law enforcement agencies are already participating, the hope is to engage at least 100 agencies to participate in this initial stage. The Initiative needs agencies’ critical feedback before opening up the tool to all agencies later this year. To learn more about CENTRAL or for details on participating in the proof of concept, visit CENTRAL’s web page or email

Nadine Jones
Executive Director
The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership

Kwame Romaine
Chief Operating Officer
The Initiative: Advancing the Blue & Black Partnership

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