The U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service (CRS) has a long history of working with police chiefs and law enforcement agencies in a variety of ways to help support their efforts to:
- Enhance departmental community-policing initiatives
- Strengthen departmental problem-solving and mediation skills
- Expand departmental cultural awareness of diverse communities
- Respond to allegations of racial profiling
- Effectively address hate crimes and incidents
- Manage safe marches and demonstrations
- Partner with Tribal law enforcement agencies
The Community Relations Service is not a law enforcement agency. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS is the only federal agency dedicated to helping state and local governments, private and public organizations, and community groups prevent and resolve racial and ethnic tensions, hate crimes, and civil disorders. CRS supports the U.S. Department of Justice in one of its most important missions-providing assistance to state and local authorities in their efforts to prevent violence, resolve destructive conflicts, and promote public safety. CRS works with police chiefs, mayors, school administrators, other local and state authorities, community-based organizations, and civil and human rights groups.
Possibly, some of the most volatile situations to which CRS responds are negative community reactions to incidents involving alleged police misuse of force, the staging of major demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on a variety of issues involving community discontent on issues of race, national, origin or hate incidents, major school disruptions, and organized hate crime activities. CRS works in partnership with law enforcement to plan and manage safe marches and demonstrations, coordinate discussions with key stakeholders, assist in the development of Memorandums of Understanding with community partners, and to help determine preventive methods to alleviate the future potential for violence. CRS services have helped police executives build bridges of trust with diverse communities that enhance public confidence in public safety and law enforcement.
CRS' highly skilled conflict resolution specialists-called conciliators-have helped resolve thousands of cases involving excessive use of force incidents, hate crimes, demonstrations, changing community demographics, and many other emotionally charged issues. CRS conciliators do not take sides in a dispute, and they do not investigate, prosecute, impose solutions, assign blame, or assess fault. They are required by law to conduct their activities in strict confidence and are prohibited from disclosing information about cases in which they have provided services. Since CRS' activities are federally funded, conciliators are able to offer services without cost. Conciliators deploy from 15 regional offices. They serve all 50 States and the U.S. Territories.