Engaging College Students in 21st Century Policing

Engaging College Students in 21st Century Policing is a project hosted by Howard University and supported by the COPS Office. Its aim is to collect data and make recommendations to the field on how best to recruit college-educated men and women of color. The project utilizes focus groups, surveys of law enforcement agencies, and convenings between students and law enforcement. The first convening, Youth and Policing: Finding Common Ground, was held on October 5 as part of the Attorney General’s Community Policing Week.

The day started with a convening of law enforcement officials (including Director Ronald L. Davis of the COPS Office), subject matter experts, and students from Howard University and the District of Columbia. Dr. Elsie Scott, Director of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University, hosted the sessions and Gerald Darling, Chief of Student Services at Shelby County Schools, moderated.

The discussions ranged from police legitimacy to policy and practice to the nuts and bolts of candidate screening and testing. One student shared an account of the last time he got pulled over; he was so frightened that he had trouble removing his ID with his shaking hands. The encounter so unnerved him that he sold his car. A line officer recounted how a motor accident disqualified him from a new job at the New York City Police Department and he took work at Riker’s Island to make rent. Students challenged the police to define resistance and use of force. Officers challenged the students to help them to reimagine what 21st century policing can be. Researchers from Howard University shared findings from the focus groups. Officers explained the reasons that they joined law enforcement. At the close of the convening, Director Davis remarked that they event was “the best event” he had attended thus far as Director of the COPS Office.

Following the convening, participants transitioned downstairs for a Town Hall with Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. The attorney general briefed the room on her community policing tour and Community Policing Week before addressing questions from students about race, power, identity, and public safety. Dr. Scott moderated a plenary discussion with Director Davis, student participants, Deputy Chief Carmen Best of the Seattle Police Department, and Chief Alfred Best of the Richmond (Virginia) Police Department.

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing emphasized the need for both diverse law enforcement agencies and increased dialogue between police and the policed. Youth and Police: Finding Common Ground brought students, law enforcement, and federal leadership together to find common ground and advance community policing.

Sarah Estill
Community Policing Dispatch
Staff Writer

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The Woodstock Police Department – Honoring a Local Hero | Overview of National Community Policing Week | Inaugural Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing | Engaging College Students in 21st Century Policing | 2016 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award - Arlington PD & Arlington Independent SD | Coffee with a Cop: Five Years Later | An Assessment of the San Francisco Police Department | Are you on the Task Force Recommendations Implementation Map? | National Community Policing Week – Publications Release