Skip to main content

CRS Supports Communities Experiencing Racial Tension

An image of a laptop showing a virtual meeting with a diverse group of participants.
Getty Images

This spring, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, intensified ongoing racial tensions and resulted in nationwide protests. Communities gathered to demonstrate and demand action to address historic and recent race-related concerns over excessive police force, racial profiling, and alleged disparate police treatment of Black communities. In the weeks and months that followed, clashes between protestors and police further inflamed tensions.

CRS has been in communication with federal, state, and local government officials, as well as community and faith-based leaders, in approximately 65 U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, Louisville, and Brunswick, in response to the demonstrations in the aftermath of the deaths of Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Floyd.

Communities have turned to CRS for support to strengthen police-community relations and develop responses to community groups’ calls for action for these efforts. CRS is not a prosecutorial or investigatory agency and serves as a neutral third party to provide conflict resolution services and to help rebuild communities in the aftermath of community discord. In efforts to address the tensions and conflicts these communities are experiencing, CRS provides a variety of services, including the Dialogue on Race, Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP), and City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) programs. CRS also provides trainings and consultation services, facilitates dialogue among community groups, and conducts formal mediation. These programs and services have had a significant positive impact on communities seeking to reduce tensions and improve police-community relations.

Many of these services take months of work in coordination with local stakeholders to plan, implement, and support follow-on actions. CRS services are designed to build trust, increase understanding, result in locally identified solutions, and build local capacity to independently resolve conflicts in the future.

For example, in one Northeast state, CRS is meeting with local mayors, chiefs of police, school leaders, chambers of commerce, faith leaders, and nonprofit executives to plan a regional City-SPIRIT program to help local communities respond to a series of race-related incidents that culminated in protests following the death of Mr. Floyd. A steering committee of leaders from across the region has been meeting virtually with CRS to coordinate the SPIRIT program and ensure that all community groups are engaged in the planning process. City-SPIRIT is a one-day program that brings together diverse community stakeholders such as local government agencies, community groups, faith‐based organizations, civil rights organizations, and law enforcement to identify issues impacting their community and develop collaborative solutions to reduce conflict, improve communication, and minimize the potential for future conflict.

CRS is also developing virtual versions of its programs to meet current community needs for social distancing. The virtual SPCP program will provide the same benefits as an in-person SPCP: to strengthen trust and develop partnerships between law enforcement professionals and the diverse communities they serve, in the context of guiding the community to identify issues and solve problems collaboratively.

The death of Mr. Floyd and other Black Americans has resulted in a renewed interest in community dialogue on race and racism. In response, CRS revised the guide for its Dialogue on Race program, an interactive, facilitated process that opens lines of communication and fosters mutual understanding to help address racial conflict and decrease racial tensions. Community groups can use the guide and its discussion questions to set up one or more virtual or in-person dialogue sessions, either with CRS support or independently.

This fall, CRS will publish additional tools, including:

  • virtual training for community stakeholders on in-person and online meeting facilitation
  • additional resources for communities using the Dialogue on Race program
  • a collection of online consultation resources

CRS continues to work with communities to plan and implement services designed to address racial tensions and improve police-community relations. For more information about the services CRS offers, visit

Updated April 6, 2023