National Police Foundations Project: Establishing Private Sector Partnerships

Pamela Delaney

With police departments across the nation suffering budget cuts and layoffs, many police departments are looking for innovative cost saving solutions and new revenue streams to support critical staffing, equipment, and community needs. “In these economically challenging times, community policing—the relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve—is key to community safety,” observed the COPS Office Director Bernard K. Melekian. The economic downturn we face seriously jeopardizes the financial footing on which the “enhancement of community policing and the myriad social outreach programs employed by local law enforcement” are based.

A strong partnership with the community can serve to focus limited police resources and attract additional support for police initiatives. Police foundations—nonprofit organizations that help raise money and provide resources for police programs, equipment, and special needs that cannot be readily provided through public sector funds—offer a promising source of support in bridging funding gaps.
Police Officer in front of a classrooomPolice foundations serve as vehicles to supplement law enforcement resources with private support and involve the private sector in cooperative efforts to “prevent crime and eliminate the atmosphere of fear it creates.” By engaging the private sector in collaborative partnerships with law enforcement agencies, police foundations help business leaders become stakeholders in community safety, foster mutual trust and respect, and provide supplemental financial support for critical needs.

The first police foundation was established in 1971 in New York City. Few cities or towns followed, until the 1990s when leaders in law enforcement recognized the potential that police–business partnerships held for community policing. Today, cities and towns of all sizes, socio-economic conditions, and demographics have launched police foundations, demonstrating that the model can be applied with equal success in departments large and small. Many more municipalities and jurisdictions, however, can benefit from these partnerships and a wealth of resources now exist to help those interested in creating new foundations or bringing their foundation to the next step.

The National Police Foundations Project was launched in September 2010 to promote the expansion of police foundations in small, medium, and large cities and towns across the country. With support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (the COPS Office) and Target, the project offers training workshops and technical assistance to communities to sustain community policing crime reduction and crime prevention efforts by establishing or expanding existing police foundations. A user-friendly guide to creating a police foundation and a website are planned. The creation of a national police foundations membership organization to serve as a source of information and guidance is also underway to support the professional needs of new and existing foundations.

The workshops, the cornerstone of the Police Foundations Project, are intended to provide business leaders, elected officials, police chiefs, and foundation board members and staff with the basic tools to establish and grow a police foundation. Participants will come away with an understanding and appreciation for the benefits of working with a police foundation; the procedure for forming a police foundation; the elements essential to a successful foundation; the challenge of attracting private support; and the resources available under the Project to assist their efforts.

Six regional sessions are planned in 2011–12. The first of these one-day programs was launched on May 5 in Boston at The Boston Police Department (BPD) headquarters. Co-hosted by the BPD, the city’s Police Foundation and the National Police Foundations Project, nearly forty police chiefs, business leaders, and foundation board members and staff from around New England attended the program. Police Commissioner Ed Davis welcomed the group and opened the discussion with his experiences of rebuilding a dormant foundation and the value of the organization to the BPD’s public safety agenda. Presenters included nationally recognized police foundation experts Pamela Delaney and Karen Wagener, former presidents of the NYC and the LA police foundations, respectively. Joseph B. Darby III, the current president of the Boston Police Foundation and an attorney specializing in tax-exempt organizations, charitable fund-raising, and related tax issues affecting police foundations, provided an overview of best practices and governance.

The next sessions will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 2 at the headquarters of Target, and in Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 23. Fall and winter programs are planned for San Francisco, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. All workshops are open to individuals representing law enforcement agencies, private sector and non-profit partners, and staff and board members of current police foundations who are interested in establishing, working with, and/or growing a foundation.
In addition to the one-day workshop, a panel discussion will be offered on July 18 at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) conference in Lexington, Kentucky and a two-day training program is also planned by the Police Foundations Section of the IACP in Chicago, October 24–25.

There is no fee to attend the regional programs. Registration is required.For more information about the workshops, workshop registration, the National Police Foundations Project, and police foundations in general, email


Pamela Delaney is the director of the National Police Foundations Project. She is the recognized expert in police foundation and non-profit management. Pam served as President and CEO of the New York City Policed Foundation from 1983–2010. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served four police commissioners—providing leadership, analytical, research and administrative support for policy formulation in emerging issues. Pam served as the NYPD liaison to the NYC Police Foundation before becoming its CEO. Pam holds a B.A. from Boston College, a Master of Philosophy degree from Columbia University and a Master of Arts from Rutgers University, where she was named an Eagleton Fellow. She is recipient of numerous awards from law enforcement and community organizations, including the New York Post Award for service to the community.

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