Law Enforcement

The Center for Policing Equity is a not-for-profit research consortium committed to helping law enforcement professionals cultivate stronger relationships with the communities they’re sworn to protect and serve.

As a not-for-profit, university-based research consortium, we use grants from private and federal donors to fund our independent work with you. That means you pay nothing for basic research or information about that research. Past collaborations have worked on:

Several CPE researchers are experts in the area of organizational climate and culture and can partner with a law enforcement department to promote positive change. The CPE has been asked to address issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and general organizational fairness with the goal of improving department climate. At no cost to the department, we can conduct climate surveys, focus group interviews, and simulations/experiments with the goal of providing concrete solutions for departmental progress.

Many CPE researchers have experience working with police departments to address conflict between the department and the community. Whether the issue is how to measure racial fairness (e.g., how to handle “stops data”), how to “sell the stop,” or how best to communicate across the diverse communities that make up our nation, the CPE has researchers with a broad range of interests and expertise in this area.

The CPE has conducted various hands-on, specialized training sessions for law enforcement offices and police departments who want evidence-based training. Topics include implicit bias, “racism without racists,” and managing gender on the force. Trainings can target executives, patrol, and/or community members. While most of our trainings are free of charge (in exchange for access to research-related data), trainings that have already been completed may require a fee.

The goal of the Center for Police Equity’s (CPE) research is to improve law enforcement by eliminating inequitable treatment based on gender and race. Research can only contribute to this goal when three conditions are met:

  • Rigor: the research must be able to withstand scrutiny by professionals in both law enforcement and the social sciences. This requires researchers with methodological sophistication and rigor.
  • Independence: Both the police and the communities they serve must have confidence that the research is unbiased. This requires researchers that police and communities trust and respect and a process that avoids both the perception and the reality of undue influence.
  • Access: In order to improve screening, training, and policy, researchers must have access to police officers, records, and regulations.

These three conditions have long been known, yet no organization had been able to deliver all three simultaneously. The CPE was formed to correct that.

The Major Cities Chiefs Association formally endorsed the CPE in June of 2009. After reviewing successful policy changes stemming from previous CPE research, Chief Bratton (Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and President of the organization at the time) called the CPE research model one that “has already begun reshaping scholarship and practice related to racial profiling and gender representation in law enforcement, and [...] has the potential to do much more.”

Rigor

The CPE research model facilitates collaborations between law enforcement agencies and established scholars from across the social sciences in order to ensure that any research conducted will meet with the highest scientific standards.

Independence

The CPE does not accept funding from partner law enforcement agencies in order to avoid any appearance of undue influence on research autonomy. Instead, the CPE has received research funds from the National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the MacArthur Foundation, the Pennsylvania State University, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and two funding sources at UCLA: the Institute for Social Science Research and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.

Access

Departments working with the CPE agree to provide complete access to all resources necessary for the completion of a research project. These resources may include officer stops and use of force history, aggregate statistics, and the ability to test officers for psychological biases. The CPE has already shared resources, records, and research with departments in 13 metropolitan areas in North America, and negotiations with several other departments in the “Major Cities” 3 group are ongoing. The 13 organizations with which the CPE is currently working are:

  • Baltimore City, MD;
  • Denton, TX;
  • Denver, CO;
  • Houston, TX;
  • Las Vegas, NV;
  • Los Angeles County, CA;
  • New York, NY;
  • Oakland, CA;
  • Portland, OR;
  • St. Louis, MO; Salt
  • Lake City, UT;
  • San Jose, CA;
  • Toronto, ON;
  • Virginia Beach, VA.

As noted by the Major Cities Chiefs, CPE research has already helped to produce policy changes in the interest of increased equity in Denver, Portland, Salt Lake City, and San Jose. Research on the racial bias in the decision to shoot, treatment of women during training, reducing racial profiling in suspect stops, improving equitable representation in media portrayals of police behavior, and reducing bias in non-lethal use of force have already prompted policy shifts in departmental training, mentorship programs, and public relations.

There are a number of ways we can support your work. You can elect to participate in the National Justice Database; consider joining the Department of Justice’s National Initiative; or consider a one-on-one collaboration with CPE.


Step 1
Give us a call

We’ll provide a more in-depth introduction to what services we can provide, and answer any questions you may have. To schedule a phone call, please contact us via email at coordinator@policingequity.org or by phone at 310-206-3438.


Step 2
Letter of Intent

After you have spoken with us and we’ve answered your questions, the next step is to sign a letter of intent. This letter is not a legally binding document; it is only intended as a way to justify our expenditures for a potential site visit.  In some cases, a letter of intent can be waived. View a sample letter of intent here.


Step 3
Site visit

Site visits usually last one to three days and are a chance for CPE staff and/or researchers to get to know your department and the community you serve. CPE staff coordinates with you to set up meetings with individuals from each of these groups, tailored to your department’s goals. Departments provide us with a department liaison who coordinates the visit. This liaison should be someone who understands your department and community, is committed to the possible research collaboration, and has access to Chief’s schedule. At the end of the visit, an outgoing meeting provides the opportunity to brief the Chief on what we have learned and the kind of research project we think would work for your department.

Again, all CPE-related costs for the site visit will be free of cost for interested departments, 100% of costs come out of our own grants. In very rare cases, the site visit can be waived.


Step 4
Researcher matching

Before the CPE can begin work on a specific plan of action, a research team must be identified.  Based on the goals of the department, location, and researcher interests and availability, CPE seeks to assemble a team of qualified exerts that will be responsive to your department’s needs.


Step 5
Memo of Understanding (MOU)

If you and your department decide that you would like to move forward with our proposed research project, the next step is the MoU. We will send you a draft version and, together, our legal teams work together to finalize the MoU tailored to your department’s goals.

It is important to note that at no point in time are we interested in singling out individual officers in our research. Instead, we are interested in aggregate data—that is, the general trends in the department. The identities or responses of individual officers will never be revealed in the data or elsewhere. It is also customary to have an embargo period for any research reports so that a department has the opportunity to review our findings before they are submitted for publication in scholarly journals.  Press and other confidentialities are also regularly included. View a sample MoU here.


Step 6
Research Project Commences

 


Step 7
Progress Reports

Approximately once a year, we check in with an update as to the progress of our research. On rare occasions, more frequent updates can be arranged, but usually at the department’s expense.