Working with America's Religious Groups
CRS assists law enforcement agencies in improving relations between policing officials and the diverse communities they serve by:
- Supporting law enforcement agencies’ and communities’ efforts to establish high levels of mutual trust and respect by facilitating dialogues, helping to establish police-community advisory boards and other collaborative processes, and working with both law enforcement agencies and community organizations to mediate conflicts stemming from perceptions of biased policing or the excessive use of force
- Developing and providing law enforcement officials and officers with cultural competency trainings to inform them of various communities’ practices and norms, instruct them on words and behaviors that may be perceived as offensive, and assist them in forming trusting relationships with the communities they serve
- Assisting officers in working with march and demonstration organizers, volunteers, and participants in developing contingency plans for safely holding and managing events
Below are some recent examples of CRS's work with law enforcement. Additional case summaries may be found within CRS Annual Reports, located on the CRS Resource Center webpage.
Providing facilitated dialogue and consultation services to the community and law enforcement in Memphis, Tennessee
In March 2017, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) requested facilitated dialogue and consultation services from CRS following reports that community groups planned to stage protests amid racial tensions in the community and nationally.
The protestors sought to bring public attention to social injustices in the community, and the possibility of a larger protest was anticipated. In 2016, Memphis experienced a massive protest that resulted in the shutdown of the Hernando de Soto Bridge on Interstate 40. With tensions high in the region, MPD Police Director Michael Rallings requested CRS’s assistance in ensuring that the MPD had a productive dialogue with the community.
CRS provided technical assistance to the MPD as it prepared to host a public forum to address policing concerns expressed by African American community members. The event was designed to give the community an opportunity to provide input on solutions and strategies when interacting with police officers.
The forum took place in July 2017 and approximately 120 community members attended. CRS facilitated a dialogue between the community and the forum panelists, which included members of the MPD, state government, faith-based groups, civil rights organizations, and community youth.