Our History

It Began at an Innovative Conference

In 2004, Stanford University Professor Jennifer L. Eberhardt masterminded a landmark gathering of law enforcement practitioners and social science researchers—Stanford University’s Policing and Racial Bias Conference—to foster collaborative relationships between law enforcement and researchers. The conference was an overwhelming success with both groups.

The second conference, held in 2007, sparked a pivotal, collaborative relationship between then Denver Police Department Division Chief Tracie L. Keesee and Professor Phillip Atiba Solomon (f.k.a. Goff). This dynamic partnership would ultimately culminate in the creation of Center for Policing Equity (CPE).

Initial Successes at the Denver Police Department

The initial partnership started with the Denver Police Department’s Division Chief Keesee and Chief Gerald R. Whitman asking Dr.Solomon to tackle important research questions and urgent law enforcement questions simultaneously. The Department was seeking answers of how to attract and maintain a representative, unbiased police force that fulfills its duties with excellence.

Dr.Solomon’s research team was asked to rise to this challenge - bringing a research background in race relations and discrimination, and wide-ranging knowledge of research methodology to bear. It was then that Dr. Solomon synthesized a new research model integrating experimental research, survey research, and individual personnel files. As part of this initiative, he instituted pre- and post-testing at the Denver Police Academy to assess changes in attitudes or behaviors in the new recruits. The key was the partnership between the scientists on Dr. Solomon’s team and support and unprecedented access provided by Chief Whitman and the Denver Police Department.

The result of this joint venture lead to updates for command staff, mentoring programs for female officers, changes in disciplinary policies to increase transparency and accountability, and procedural changes to improve recruitment and retention.

Inspired by these successes, Phil and former Division Chief Keesee set their sights higher with the goal of replicating the Denver Police Department successes at other police departments across North America.

Research and Policing Collaboration Expands Beyond Denver

Following in the steps of Dr. Eberhardt’s Policing Racial Bias initiative, Phil and Tracie traveled to the Major Cities Chiefs Conference in San Diego, in November 2008. At the conference, they invited interested departments to participate in this new initiative aimed at promoting researcher and law enforcement collaborations with the goal of tackling issues at the heart of both groups’ interests. Their enthusiasm for this new paradigm was contagious. Chiefs of police and sheriff’s departments in Chicago, Edmonton, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles County, Milwaukee, Nashville, Newark, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto, and Virginia Beach were eager to become part of this new wave of research and policing.

Thus, in 2008, the CPE was founded. At the core of CPE’s mission, as well as those departments associated with it, is a deep concern for equity and inclusiveness within the police department itself and between the police department and the community it serves.