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April 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 4

lots of hugs
Photo Courtesy of the LVMPD
Police foundations have existed since 1971, but there has never been a national study of police foundations until the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Foundation commissioned the research firm, IDEA Analytics, to survey the 250 police foundations that exist in the United States and Canada to identify and publicize positive examples of community-police engagement.

The Positive Community-Police Engagement Report is the start of ongoing research on police foundations. The survey of police foundations as successful local independent community-led nonprofit organizations provides, for the first time, data to support police foundations’ continued sustainability and growth. Highlights from 58 responding police foundations (23 percent of those surveyed) include the following:

Youth and Family Programming
  • Approximately 78 percent of local police foundation respondents supported their respective police department’s or sheriff’s office’s engaging in positive community youth and police programming involving sports, arts, education, and recreation activities. Moreover, 65 percent of these police foundations also funded programming supporting essential needs for local youth and their families.
  • The majority of responding police foundations also supported a variety of interactive (prosocial), educational, and early career programming including school engagement and sports or activity-based mentorship initiatives.
  • Additional detail on how police foundations work with youth will be collected in future surveys and studies to better understand the role of police foundations in community youth-police engagement as well as to support and serve as a catalyst for replication of promising practices across the nation.
Audit Programming
  • More than 50 percent of local police foundations surveyed also supported adult engagement initiatives. Specifically, 41 percent of police foundation respondents funded community-led safety/crime prevention programming, and nearly 30 percent supported family programs such as parenting classes. Some foundations also reported funding community-based career initiatives such as general résumé and job training programs that focused on public safety career programs.
  • Many police foundations also supported more complex services or community outreach because of economic challenges and victimization rates in their community. For example, several foundations indicated their involvement in victim support, homeless outreach, crisis recovery, and housing or financial assistance.
  • Evaluating programs supported by police foundations will help promote program effectiveness with private donors as well as enhance police foundation legitimacy, provide more information and transparency, and support launching new police foundations and police foundation programming in other communities.
Police Technology and Equipment
  • Of the responding police foundations, 79 percent said they supported technology and equipment, including
    • police uniforms and general equipment (e.g., vehicle maintenance costs, police uniform clothing, community program clothing, police weapons);
    • computers and technology (e.g., radios, automated external defibrillator, hardware, or software);
    • crime prevention and intervention equipment (e.g., public space security equipment like cameras, lighting, license plate readers).

    However, within these categories, there was great variation on what was funded, with the largest common expenditure being support for police animal units such as K9 or mounted/horse units.

  • One important finding from the results of this survey is that police foundations are very local and thus focus on local safety needs that are supported by their local police department and community. This may explain why there are different technology and equipment initiatives funded by police foundations across the nation.
  • Based on survey results, police foundations are optimally positioned to support technology and equipment pilot programs. These programs can be transparently structured to determine if the technology or equipment meets community-specific safety goals. However, additional information regarding how police foundations decide what technology to fund and how they procure technology and equipment is needed.
Officer Wellness and Development
  • Police foundations supported officer development and wellness programming. This is important because police foundations, as local community-based nonprofits that already work with police, may be asked to enhance their efforts as strategies for reimagining police move forward. Police foundations have a unique opportunity to expand their role as a provider and supporter of new police trainings and officer wellness services.
  • Police foundations also supported officer professional development with tuition reimbursement or by supporting training on policing methods.
  • More than 62 percent of police foundations in the survey said they supported officer wellness programs. In addition, almost one-third also said that they supported behavioral health programming for officers.

It is hoped that the survey data and examples will assist community members engaged in current discussions surrounding reimagining police to view police foundations as successful existing community-based nonprofit partners that will continue to help build and strengthen community policing efforts. The Positive Community-Police Engagement Report provides positive examples of established community-police engagement that can advance the conversation about how public-private partnerships can further support the needs of the community.

Tom Kovach
Executive Director
LVMPD Foundation

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