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Learning to Build Police-Community Trust

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2019
112 pages

This article reports on Urban Institute’s evaluation of the National Initiative, analyzes the key findings about police training implementation and policy change, and notes requirements for sustaining police-community trust-building activities.


This report evaluates the implementation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice (National Initiative) activities that occurred between January 2015 and December 2018, which sought to address the lack of legitimacy and community trust in policing. The initiative was built upon three pillars: procedural justice, implicit bias, and reconciliation. Researchers collected qualitative and quantitative data to support the evaluation of information relating to police-community relations in the six pilot cities located across the United States. The authors provide an overview of their approach to evaluating the National initiative; police training implementation and sustainability; reconciliation process and implementation; efforts that inspired policy changes; and policy review and analysis of administrative data. Key findings suggest that police-community trust-building is a resource-intensive project, leadership support and stability are important factors for success, trust-building efforts rely on local champions for change, encouraging police participation in reconciliation efforts is important for sustainability, communication between community members and police during reconciliation sessions can be facilitated by officers avoiding uniforms and defensive responses to community members’ statements, and that including people with low levels of trust in listening sessions will help them to identify the causes of the mistrust.


Date Published: August 1, 2019