The U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service (CRS) has a long history of working with municipalities across the nation in a variety of ways to help support their efforts to:
- Bring together representatives from local government agencies to develop collaborative approaches for preventing conflicts
- Help communities develop the capacity to prevent and respond to conflicts
- Establish programs to eliminate racial and ethnic misconceptions and resolve conflicts
- Expand cultural awareness of diverse communities
- Ensure inclusive and diverse leadership and representation
- Strengthen problem-solving and mediation skills
- Prevent and effectively address hate or bias-motivated crimes and incidents
- Provide customized training and technical assistance to local Human Relations Commissions (HRCs)
- Work with local officials to develop trainings or consultative programs that support an HRC's efforts to better serve the needs of its community
- Assist local law enforcement, city officials, and demonstration organizers with planning, managing, and coordinating safe marches and demonstrations
The Community Relations Service is a conflict resolution 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, civil disorder based on race, color, or national origin, and to address and prevent hate crimes. CRS supports the U.S. Department of Justice in some 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 and ensuring that the rights of individuals are protected. CRS works with police chiefs, mayors, school administrators, other local and state authorities, community-based organizations, and civil and human rights groups to resolve disputes, disagreements, and difficulties relating to discriminatory practices and to prevent and address hate crimes.
CRS works with local communities who want to develop or strengthen their conflict resolution strategies in order to resolve future disputes without further external assistance. In many cases, building bridges of communication between those communities most vulnerable to conflict and violence is essential to improving community safety and reducing the potential for future disruptive conflict and hate crimes.
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 in which disagreement and conflict arise on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. 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 confidence and without publicity and are prohibited from disclosing confidential 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 to communities nationwide from 14 regional offices. They serve all 50 States and the U.S. Territories.