In the past decade, the criminal justice reform movement has occasioned a national reckoning around the ways police departments operate in underserved communities across the country. Americans across the country are asking the question: Who receives protection—and at what cost?
In Pursuit of Peace: Building Police-Community Trust to Break the Cycle of Violence examines how community trust, policing, and gun violence intersect in 21st century America. As the report explores, extensive research indicates that when communities experience over-enforcement of minor infractions and under-protection from violence, trust in law enforcement plummets. Without a foundation of trust, community members become less likely to report crimes and participate as active witnesses with law enforcement.
This lack of trust and participation makes it much more difficult for law enforcement to hold people accountable for violence, and in the absence of a trusted or effective justice system, encourages a desperate few to resort to vigilante, retaliatory violence instead. Instances of police violence are often the most visible manifestations of this breakdown in trust, and make it much more difficult for communities and law enforcement to work together to ensure that all residents are healthy, safe, and free.
In recent years, a number of communities, including Camden, New Jersey, and Stockton, California, have taken important steps to build community trust, reform ineffective policing practices, and reduce violence. In Pursuit of Peace explores the trust-building efforts in progress in cities around the country and highlights the lifesaving potential of these critical reforms.
The gun violence prevention movement owes a debt of gratitude to the activists and organizations that have long been fighting to make policing and the criminal justice system at large fairer and more equitable for all (for an incomplete list of these organizations, see our Acknowledgements on p. 3 of the report).
It is our hope that In Pursuit of Peace both elevates difficult truths about the way our system frequently fails our most underserved communities, and serves as a collective call to action to build earned and durable trust between American communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them.