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Video: Policing, Public Safety, and Equity: Evidence and Insight for Better Policymaking


The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (EPI Center) and Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research and public engagement organization, hosted a webinar for city officials and civic leaders focused on promoting equitable public safety, community reinvestment, and police reform.

Public Agenda’s Hidden Common Ground on Race and Police Reform examined public opinion in June 2020 on many of the most pressing questions prompted by the tragic murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, including policing bias, use of force, and militarization as well as how policing fits into the priorities of communities and the broader effects of racism in society.

Aimed primarily at elected city officials, public administrators, and other city stakeholders, the webinar addressed the scientific evidence behind these questions with a particular focus on the impacts and lived experiences of communities disproportionately affected by these issues. The goal was to provide the evidence and insight policymakers need to effectively and equitably promote public safety in their communities.

Find recommended reading from the speakers, additional resources and a transcript of the webinar below.


Emily Owens, Professor, Department of Criminology, Law, and Society, University of California Irvine

Michael Sierra-Arévalo, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures


Quixada Moore-Vissing, Associate Director for National Engagement Programs at Public Agenda


Introduced by Will Friedman, President of Public Agenda, and Steve Newell, Project Director, Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, AAAS

Presented in partnership with the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA).

Recommended Reading from the Speakers:

Bell M. C., “Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement,” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 126, pp. 2054-2150, 2017.

"Changing Police Practices Means Changing 911," Jim Parsons, Frankie Wunschel, Vera Institute of Justice, 2020.

"Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement: A Review of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Various Models," Joseph De Angelis,  Richard Rosenthal, Brian Buchner, OJP Iagnosti Center and National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. 

"Enhancing Accountability and Trust with Independent Investigations of Police Lethal Force," Walter Katz, Harvard Law Review Forum, 2015.

"Interrupting Violence With The Message 'Don't Shoot'," David M. Kennedy, NPR, 2011.

Ofer U., "Getting it Right: Building Effective Civilian Review Boards to Oversee Police," Seton Hall Law Review, vol. 46, iss. 4, art. 2, 2016. 

Owens E., Weisburd D., Amendola K. L., Alpert G. P., “Can You Build a Better Cop? Experimental Evidence on Supervision, Training, and Policing in the Community,” Criminology & Public Policy, vol. 7, iss. 1, 2018.

Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities,” National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine, 2018. 

Sierra‐Arévalo M., “The commemoration of death, organizational memory, and police culture,” Criminology, vol. 57, iss. 7, 2019.

The Economics of Policing: Forthcoming in the Economics of Risky Behavior,” Emily Owens, University of California, Irvine Department of Criminology, Law and Society, Department of Economics.

"Thomas Abt Talks New Book On Urban Violence, 'Bleeding Out'," Michael Martin, Thomas Abt, NPR, 2019.

What the police really believe,” Zack Beauchamp, Vox, 2020.

Additional Resources

American Civil Liberties Union: The Other Epidemic: Fatal Police Shootings in the Time of COVID-19

Arizona State University: Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Center for Policing Equity: Data Science for Justice: How do you measure justice?

Center for Policing Equity: A Roadmap for Exploring New Models of Funding Public Safety

Cure Violence Global

George Mason University: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy

John Jay College of Criminal Justice: Data Collaborative for Justice

John Jay College of Criminal Justice: National Network for Safe Communities

Local and Regional Government Alliance on Race & Equity: Advancing Racial Equity and Transforming Government: A Resource Guide to Put Ideas into Action

National Institute of Justice: Crime Prevention

National League of Cities: City Officials Guide to Policing in the 21st Century

Peirson E., Simoiu C., Overgoor J., Corbett-Davies S., Jenson D., Shoemaker A., Ramachandran V., Barghouty P., Phillips C., Shroff R., Goel S., “A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States,” Nature Human Behavior, vol. 4, pp. 736-745, 2020.

Portals Policing Project: A Policed People’s Account of the State

Scholars Strategy Network: Criminal Justice

Stanford University: SPARQ

Stanford University: The Stanford Open Policing Project

The City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The National Academies Press: Law and Justice

The Square One Project

The United States Conference of Mayors: Report on Police Reform and Racial Justice

United States Department of Justice: Final Report of The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

University of California Berkeley: Othering & Belonging Institute

University of Chicago Urban Labs: Urban Labs Crime Lab

Urban Institute: Policing and Crime Prevention

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice: Best Practices and Emerging Issues in American Policing

Yale Law School: The Justice Collaboratory



1. Where are some places to find evidence-based and nonpartisan information on this topic?

2. What are some of the most promising pathways for police reform? Please indicate what evidence supports these pathways, either from research or from your own experiences, and some policy trade-offs or obstacles people might face with some of these reforms.

3. What is the evidence around racial bias in policing? And what recommendations can you share based on evidence for addressing racial bias in policing?

4. Have you had learned anything in terms of educational levels of police and their use of excessive force?

5. How can we address the bias inherent in publicly available data sources and thus recommend evidence-based policies when conclusions are based on biased data?

6. Has there been any research into the ways calls are dispatched and if that has any influence on how law enforcement officers respond to the call?

7. Is there research about other aspects of the justice system that connect to police reform?

8. How can we get the good apples to help fix or eliminate the bad apples? Are there any other things you want to share about supporting polices - police officers in their sort of personal development?

9. How can we make police unions part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

10. Please recommend a next step or two for participants today. How do communities get started in making these difficult decisions, especially when there's so much research out there? What would the next step be to try to start integrating this into actual policy-making and decision-making?


0:00:00:>>STEVE M NEWELL: Public opinion, funding, values and politics - however, sound scientific evidence is often the key to reconciling these factors and finding policy solutions that are effective, economical and equitable. As city officials, you know that public safety is essential. Exposure to crime and violence is associated with a host of negative psychological, educational, economic and social outcomes. Because of this, cities must take steps to ensure the safety of their communities. Thanks in part to your hard work, generally, we have seen incredible reductions in crime, particularly violent crime, over the last several decades. However, this safety is not distributed evenly across every community, and the consequences of our current efforts of crime prevention and reduction are also shared inequitably. The tragic death of George Floyd in May sparked massive protests across the country over the summer as people confronted a complex set of issues across our criminal justice system, including bias in policing, the use of force and accountability, as well as how these issues fit within our larger social structures and relate to the other challenges we face as a nation. Unfortunately, in America, citizens are killed by law enforcement more than any other wealthy nation. Over the last 12 months, American police have shot and killed over 1,000 people. American police kill citizens roughly 26 times more often than German police and more than three times more often than Canadian police. Black Americans are subject to lethal force by law enforcement between two and three times more frequently than white Americans, and any use of force, almost four times more frequently. During our conversation today, our goal is to provide evidence and insight to help you effectively and equitably promote public safety in your communities. We look forward to helping tackle these issues together. And we hope that today is just the first of many conversations in this work. So with that, let me turn things over to Will Friedman to introduce our partner for this webinar, Public Agenda, before we get started. Will.

0:01:55:>>WILL FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Steve. Hello, everybody. I'm Will Friedman, president of Public Agenda. We're a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and public engagement organization dedicated to strengthening democracy and expanding opportunity for all Americans. Along with Steve, I'd like to welcome you to the webinar. We appreciate your interest and all the important work you do in your communities. At Public Agenda, we work to understand the public's views, values and learning curve on today's issues, help the public develop sounder judgment on those issues and support change that gives the public a greater voice in those issues and the decisions that affect their lives, including and especially those communities who have historically had too little voice and influence in those states. And we often work with leaders at the neighborhood, municipal and state-level, to help them better understand their constituents and develop practices and systems that create effective, meaningful public engagement and problem-solving and equitable change. One example of the kind of work we do is our Hidden Common Ground Initiative which led to talking to Steve and our partnership in today's webinar. Hidden Common Ground is a partnership between Public Agenda, USA Today, the National Issues Forums Network, the Kettering Foundation and the America Amplified Public Media Consortium. It's supported by a uniquely diverse collection of foundations that includes the Carnegie Corporation, the Knight Foundation, Charles Koch Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Through research, journalism and dialogue, Hidden Common Ground challenges the increasingly prevalent and self-defeating narrative that Americans are hopelessly polarized in just about every challenge facing the nation. And while that's pretty true for our national political scene, we think it's a questionable assumption for Americans in general. The initiative discovers and amplifies the many places Americans agree on solutions and then helps them better understand and have productive conversation for the places where we disagree. And we've covered a bunch of topics this year. Some of them were planned in advance like health care and immigration. Some of them were quick turnaround responses to dramatic events like the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd and the national reckoning of racial justice that followed including how it manifests in policing. On June 29, we released research findings and public attitudes on police reform and racial justice. You'll hear about some of the findings in the next - the main segment of the seminar - webinar, rather. One thing I'll point out here is that the public recognizes the need for change. Only 7% of Americans want the police and law enforcement to stay the same, comfortable with the status quo. You'll hear that there are a number of reforms that most Americans across lines of partisanship and racial identity are ready to support, as well as some areas where people disagree. As Steve was saying, we think these insights can be valuable to those wishing to lead change, especially if they're cross-checked, cross-pollinated and enriched by other kinds of research, including the kind that the epicenter represents and to where is there evidence for effectiveness and equitable change. Putting together insight into what the public is ready to support and what kinds of measures have the strongest evidence for effectiveness can, we think, be a powerful building block in creating an agenda for change. And that idea was the genesis of this webinar. Now, our panelists will be bringing their own research to bear on the questions we delve into and their practical experience around police reform and police-community relations. And that's varied and deep experience and research insights that they're going to, you know, bring to the table here. So we're going to get into it now. We hope you find the conversation thought-provoking and useful. We look forward to your questions and comments. And with that, I'll turn it over to my colleague, Quixada Moore-Vissing, associate director of national engagement programs at Public Agenda, to introduce herself, the panelists and get the conversation going. Thank you. And I'm looking forward to it.

0:06:17:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, Will. Hello, everyone, and welcome. As Will mentioned, my name is Quixada Moore-Vissing. I will be moderating our event today. And I want to thank the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their partnership in putting together this webinar, as well as ICMA for helping to publicize this event. So to share a few logistics, for about 30 minutes, I'm going to ask the panelists a series of questions. And then we will open up things up for questions from you as participants for about 20 minutes. So you are welcome to put your questions in the Q&A, which you should find on your Zoom screen, at any time. But we won't address them until the Q&A section toward the end of the hour. So I wanted to say a little bit about this - what this webinar is and what it's focusing on. So as leaders in your communities, we know that you're likely grappling with two priorities - how to be responsive to the public's needs and concerns and how to grant - ground your policy in research and evidence of what works. Public Agenda conducted a national public opinion poll this June on race and police reform that shares a snapshot of how the public is feeling about these issues. The panelists today are leaders in research and evidence-based practice in the criminal justice field. And they're here to share exactly what works with you to help inform your decision-making. So our goal today is really to bridge public opinion and research to help support you in making decisions. So now I'd like to introduce the panelists. They are a very impressive group. And, panelists, I would just say please wave as I say your name so people can identify who you are. So first, I'd like to introduce Walter Katz. Walter is the vice president of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures. He has worked in a range of criminal justice contexts, including supporting police reform efforts, as well as law enforcement in adopting technology, including early intervention tools. Walter worked as a public defender in California and as deputy chief of staff for public safety in Chicago. In Chicago, he created an Office of Violence Prevention, and he also chaired a civilian crisis intervention committee. And he is the former board chair for the National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. So welcome, Walter. Next, we have Emily Owens. Emily is a professor at University of California, Irvine, in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Emily specializes in the economics of crime, including policing and sentencing, and she does research about the impact of local public policies on criminal behavior, including how policy affects criminal activity and how people working within the justice system respond to policy changes. Thanks so much for being here, Emily. And we have Michael Sierra-Arévalo, who's an assistant professor at University of Texas, Austin, in the Department of Sociology. His research examines how danger and violence influence police culture, how officers conduct themselves and how these things intersect with social inequality. He has written for a range of national publications, including The Washington Post, GQ and NPR. And I'll just briefly introduce myself. As I mentioned, I work at Public Agenda on the public engagement team. I formerly worked on the MacArthur Foundation's pretrial reform called the Safety and Justice Challenge. And I would be happy to speak with any of you at a later time about intersections between community engagement and the justice system. And although I can't introduce all of you, I want to acknowledge how pleased we are that all of you are joining us. And this can be the beginning, not the end, of conversations amongst us. But I want to jump right into questions and hear from our panelists. So, panelists, just a couple things before we start. So as you respond to these questions, I just would ask you to recognize a few factors, just first, that we have participants from a range of geographic locations, including urban and rural contexts - so just to keep that in mind - and second, that people here are coming from a range of different experiences and identities. So please incorporate thinking around these factors into your responses. So the first question that I'd like to ask is that in an age of information overload where there are lots of options - lots of opinions and resources out there making various recommendations for reforming policing and law enforcement, it can be difficult to know what information sources are credible and truly reflective of your community's perspective, the general public's views and that are also grounded in evidence. Could you please share with our participants some places to find information that you think are evidence-based and nonpartisan that could help inform their thinking about these issues? And I'd ask each panelist to respond, but why don't we start first with Emily?

0:11:24:>>EMILY OWENS: Hi. Thank you. And thanks for having me on this really important panel. I hope that the participants find it, you know, helpful in making the tough decisions that you're going to have to make over the coming, you know, days and weeks and months and years. So places to go to try to get a sort of summary or overview of what we know works in policing and criminal justice include the National Academy of Sciences. I was recently part of a panel that examined what science told us about proactive policing and its impact on crime, communities and legal behavior - the legality of policing. And so that was a multi - I think it was a couple-year process where a group of about 16 or 17 of us reviewed scientific research. We talked to community stakeholders, we talked to members of policing organizations and organizations representing people who were policed, lawyers, and really tried to, in an objective way as we possibly could, really say, OK, here's what we, you know, think there's a sound evidence base for working. Here are places, also importantly, where either research is mixed or where there isn't research. And in that case, you know - and there's a difference there - right? - with a policy that's been researched and people don't really know what it does versus a policy that hasn't actually been evaluated. And so the ultimate consensus report that we produced, which is available for free on the National Academy of Sciences website, sort of goes through those three different policy areas - the impact of proactive policing on crime; communities, with a special focus on racial bias and perceptions of racial bias in policing; as well as the legality of police behavior when proactive policing or aggressive policing policies are adopted. I would also encourage you to take a look at George Mason's center for evidence-based policing. They also do a very good job of sort of summarizing a lot of randomized controlled trials of policing policies. The Center for Policing Equity, now run out of Yale, as well as Yale's Justice Collaboratory headed by Drs. Tom Tyler and Tracey Meares, are also a really good, sort of, credible resources for talking about what, you know, practical policing policies actually can work to both reduce crime but also increase justice more broadly speaking. Yes. So those would be my big four, I think.

0:13:46:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, Emily. Michael or Walter, would you like to speak next?

0:13:53:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: Sure, I can take a stab here. So on the note of evidence-based, The American Society for Evidence-Based Policing draws together researchers and practitioners from across the United States, as well as Canada. And they are looking at evidence-based studies and evidence-based policies in a variety of policing context. They're a very useful resource, and you're going to be drawing from expertise both from within the policing profession as well as researchers from outside who are - who understand the unique pressures and the unique environment that police often are required to operate in. Another spot is the Urban Institute, and in particular, that institution has provided some excellent insight in recent years into the more qualitative aspect of policing - so the experiences of individuals in multiple cities - that's not going to be as easy to get insight into with things like randomized control trials, which the evidence-based policing community is much more likely to emphasize, but which is still a key component of policing in our modern context. Two others that I would recommend - I can speak for the American Psychological Association, but I suspect that other disciplines have very similar - call them libraries. There are experts on standby who are willing to speak with city officials, with police chiefs, with outreach organizations about what they are experts in. So the American Psychological Association has an office of outreach, and they can connect any city official, any police chief, really anyone with experts that can speak on any number of topics. That can be community perceptions. It can be legitimacy. It can be proactive patrol. And there are people, like myself, who regularly speak with city officials, practicing police departments on various issues, which they can speak to with a host of expertise. And so the idea is that you don't need to wade through all the evidence yourself. There are people that have spent a lot of time consuming that evidence that can streamline that process for you. And then lastly, there's the Scholars Strategy Network, which is not based in one professional organization like the ASA, which is for sociology. The Scholars Strategy Network cuts across organizations - so that's political science, economics, sociology - and they have a host of policy briefs. These are incredibly digestible, very short, bullet-point-based briefs on a host of policies, a host of interventions that are very useful for individuals who are in a position to make decisions but do not have the time, in many cases, to wade through decades of literature that's often behind paywalls anyways.

0:16:37:>>WALTER KATZ: I think that paywall comment is really important for practitioners who are not in academics like I was. I think, you know, that is often a challenge that I've faced when I was in the Chicago mayor's office where we're trying to understand what does the research tell us. And we're looking then for materials which are translated into something that is not a paywall. I think there are a couple of other resources. All those from Emily and Michael are great. I would add NYU's Policing Project as having resources. And then there's also federal resources, you know, everything from the National Institute for Justice and their law enforcement page, as well as other work that comes out of BJA office of Justice Assistance - OJDP. I just pushed (ph) it back. So there are a host of resources, both government and academic, plus translated material that could be helpful.

0:17:35:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. Any other thoughts on this question before we move on? OK, so for our next question, I'm also going to chat report to the panelists in case you want to check this out as I speak. For our next question, in Public Agenda's police reform and racism report, where we did some public opinion polling nationally about race and police, we found that there's significant common ground both across the political spectrum and across racial and ethnic groups on several measures to reduce police use of excessive force against Black Americans. These include increasing transparency in data collection, conducting antibias training and de-escalation trainings, recruiting more Black police officers and undergoing community policing. So as we consider these reforms, it is important to know what has been proven to be most effective. I'm wondering if each of you could speak to what you feel are some of the most promising pathways for police reform and, as you do so, indicate what evidence supports these pathways, either from research or from your own experiences. And, you know, as you share, if you can also perhaps surface some of the policy trade-offs or obstacles people might face with some of these reforms, that would be helpful. So let me direct this question first to Walter.

0:19:07:>>WALTER KATZ: Thank you. I'm going to go right towards the last part of your question, those obstacles, because I know that the audience that I believe we have here today - very often on the practical side and policymakers, and they very often answer to principals who are the decision-makers. And I commiserate with all of you because the timeline, the cycle between, for example, what academics have been doing, conducting a study in RCT, is very different from the timeline that you're operating under. You know, my experience, for example, in Chicago mayor's office was very much driven by what just happened the prior weekend. You know, we very much were very conscious about how many people were shot, how many people were killed in Chicago that prior weekend, and then what are you going to do about it? And so we did not necessarily have that luxury of, you know, let's wait two years for an RCT or - so with those challenges, what - where do we turn to? I think the reference that Michael just had to policy briefs and translatable materials is just a great example. So, for example, when in Chicago, we really started putting our minds into a vacant lot greening program. We were not looking only to the original research that was being produced, but also to practical experiences. So there are materials which have been produced about the city of Philadelphia experience. There are other experiences which were being published out of vacant lot greening in Detroit, and so we really wanted to - what are the other experiences that have been witnessed by policymakers in other cities to see the - essentially, the transportation of research into practicality. And I think with those compressed timelines, which we, as policymakers, have to live under, being able to find those ready materials is really important.

0:21:09:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Michael or Emily, would you like to jump in next?

0:21:14:>>EMILY OWENS: Sure. Yeah, I'll jump in. Something that I really want to emphasize in terms of figuring out, you know, how do - how does one go about policing reform is that I think the most important thing that jurisdictions need to start thinking about is how we measure and evaluate policing and figure out if - what are the goals, like, the specific, trackable, measurable things you want to accomplish and make sure you start measuring those so you can figure out what works. As Walter mentioned, I think there's a pretty sizable evidence base that doing things like - he mentioned community greening, but, you know, I've done some work on revitalizing or improving low-income housing in particularly distressed areas. That - and there's been some research coming out of Philadelphia on changing the way that the city approaches vacant buildings - you know, rather than just boarding up vacant buildings, making facades that are visually and aesthetically appealing. Like, those are things that reduce crime and that people can generally get behind that don't have a lot of potential adverse consequences, like increases in the number of police, which also will reduce crime, but also, we know, has very important costs in terms of police legitimacy, in terms of racial bias. The extent to which we as a research community and as practitioners have always, always evaluated policing is through its impact on crime. There is not a way that we can consistently measure all of the other things police do that have costs on communities. And so when we're thinking about police reform, I think the most important thing to really try to do is include a strategy for measuring and evaluating things that you try - so starting to keep records just of what police are doing in a systematic way, right? How frequently do police interact with people in their jurisdictions? What are the outcomes of those interactions? I would encourage you to look at the - California's Racial Identity Profiling Act of 2015, where the state of California is now rolling out standardized data collection on stops made by officers, so you can observe - how frequently do officers interact with people? What are the race and identities of those people who police officers are interacting with? Who's searched? These are the - we all want policies that can make those searches and police interactions better for everybody - right? - to have more justice. But we don't right now have an infrastructure to measure that really, like, key missing component in society. Things like police training - I think procedural justice training, training officers to really think about the way they're gathering information and making decisions, even in mundane encounters, not just in high-stakes situations, is promising. There have been about three studies that have shown some promising effects of procedural justice training on things like arrests and use of force without a lot of evidence of depolicing, but I want to see eight well-done RCTs before I say, like, this is a policy that looks like it works. Most of police training is functionally unevaluated in the sense of we implemented this training program and then saw what officers did in the field, in the real world, and measured if that training actually worked because, again, we don't measure what officers do in the field in a systematic way that would allow the academic and research community to tell you the answers to those problems.

0:24:50:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: A lot of tremendously useful information from both Walter and from Emily there, so I'll actually just - I'll just try and build on that some thoughts that came to mind. So this discussion of what do we measure, I think, is absolutely central, and I've been in the habit of telling police and city officials that we - it's very difficult to reward what you don't record. And so I think particularly since the 21st century task force, but actually for decades, people have been blowing the trumpet for community policing, for building trust, enhancing legitimacy, cooperative relationships. But the fact of the matter is that the entire policing apparatus is set up to record very particular things - arrests, seizures, stops. And if I go to any major department, I can ask a captain or an assistant chief, can I get a record of all of your felony stops, seizures and felony arrests across the city? And I'll get that report in a couple hours. If I ask them for a record of all of the positive nonenforcement interactions that they've had across their city, they're going to look at me as if I need to be in a different building because that infrastructure simply does not exist. And so while it is, I think, important to have that conversation around what does it mean to do community policing, and we should be having more positive nonenforcement interactions, the simple fact is that many places don't have the infrastructure. In fact, I don't know of any that specifically do have the infrastructure to evaluate that kind of policy. That's a big challenge. We've been asking for 50 years for use-of-force data at the national level, and that hasn't happened. I don't know what that looks like for something like community interactions. All of that said, there is evidence. I published a paper with two colleagues recently on a field experiment of community policing, which we defined as these positive interactions, by an officer in uniform at a door - short 10-minute conversation asking about things happening in the community based on principles of procedural justice, and there's a short little card with a phone number they hand-wrote and said, give me a call. I'm an officer in your area. This is my beat. Large, significant increases in people's perceptions of police officers' trustworthiness, of their effectiveness - and the effects were actually strongest for individuals who had lower perceptions of police at baseline. And so this is not something that's restricted to wealthy, white folk who already like the police. In fact, it's the opposite. The strongest effects were for individuals that distrusted the police already. Is that going to fix police brutality? No. Is that going to fix racial bias? No, there's no evidence that it would. But those are the kinds of evaluations you have to do, and the only reason we were able to do that was because we built the tool to measure the interaction. And so departments that want to do that, I think, should. To summarize, two books that people should look for when it comes to violence - when I think, often, violence and safety in people's minds are the same thing - public safety means reducing violence - Thomas Abt's recent book "Bleeding Out" does a tremendous overview of the empirical research on what we can do to reduce violence in cities today without focusing on what are important but ultimately very long-term solutions to things like structural poverty, structural racial inequality, bias and racism. And then related to that, it's in Thomas' book, but I also recommend Dave Kennedy's "Don't Shoot," which is a focus on focus deterrence, which is one of the violence interventions that has the strongest evidence base to date on reducing specifically street violence with firearms.

0:28:20:>>WALTER KATZ: Can I piggyback on that just for a moment and really double down on what Michael says about reading Thomas Abt? I took pleasure of being a small group of academics and practitioners who were brought together to read a prepublication edition of it and to provide feedback to Thomas, and the one thing I told him - and this while I was at the mayor's office - is that the audience for this book are policymakers or our mayors' offices and county supervisors across the country because it provides the blueprint for how to approach thinking about not just legitimate policing but also decreasing violence. And as for what should be measured, I think at a very basic level, at the most basic level, should be measuring use of force, pedestrian and vehicle stops, complaints, both complaints which are taken and complaints that are sustained, 911 and call for service data, so you have a baseline to match it against. Then, you can actually try and really start analyzing how do police officers use their time? And what is the most difficult - and this was touched upon - is that non-criminal, non-custodial contact because that often isn't measured. And I just thought of this example. There is a viral video over this last weekend in Beverly Hills of the police stopping a young Black man who was apparently jaywalking. It was all captured on body-worn camera. Now what was not known to the officers is that he was a VP at Versace, and so his experience went viral. And they put out a statement saying, well, we stopped him for jaywalking and then we searched him. It was only a 3 1/2-minute stop, so we're all good here. The result is a decrease in legitimacy, I can guarantee, of that department. The thing is, is that many members of the community, Black members of the community, would see that and say, see, that is an example of racial profiling. What you don't see in the data - you see the stop. What you don't see in the data is the decision-making by an officer not to stop somebody and understanding what are the racial differences or other differences between who an officer uses his discretion to stop and not to stop. And so thinking through, with people like Emily and Michael, of how you can identify that kind of data gathering will be vitally important to really get a baseline of how the police actually interact with the public.

0:30:47:>>EMILY OWENS: Yeah. I want to jump in here, just to build off both of what Michael and Walter were saying, you know, something that I think is - I've always really liked about Michael's research is the extent to which he also speaks with police officers and thinks about the experience of police officers. If I had the resources to figure out how to start collecting standardized data on the types of things Walter was just mentioning, like these positive interactions, I think the critical first step would be to talk to police officers, and not necessarily superiors or police chiefs. They have a lot of insight as well, but like if - a good way to measure positive interactions between officers and people is to ask the officers, you know, what - how - when - what do you think of as a positive interaction exactly, and how do you think that would be picked up in - over the course of your job? This is - I think something that is worth pointing out is that, you know, police officers themselves are also - perceive, in many communities, to also be under attack - right? - that they're being asked to carry water for all of the structural inequality in society right now. And I think moving forward in sort of successful police reform, it's probably going to be more likely if the opinions and insights of officers are also incorporated where they have a chance to also participate in the reform process in some way. Something that we noticed when we were - my colleagues, David Weisburd, Karen Amendola and Geoff Alpert were - conducting a procedural justice experiment in Seattle was the extent to which procedural justice is not something that exists within policing agencies. You know, police departments are hierarchical, where you give orders or you receive orders. And, you know, police - there's an expectation that, you know, police officers, who weren't really expected to, you know, understand or have their orders explained to them, turn around and use procedural justice and interact with civilians in a very different way than they are treated. And so when we're thinking about police reform, you know, thinking about incorporating procedural justice in the way police departments work, where officers are able to give sort of more feedback to their supervisors about the conditions that they're facing on the job and what they think is working and not working is also something to think about. Yeah.

0:33:17:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you all. So I'm actually trying to - OK, so our police reform and racism data indicate that 58% of Americans feel racial bias by police and law enforcement against Black Americans is a serious problem in their community. For Black Americans, that number climbs to 79%. A common phrase you hear is that Black communities are both overpoliced and underpoliced. And I know that you've started to speak to this, the - specifically to the issue of racial bias, but I wanted to just dig a little deeper into this in particular before we move on. So you may feel that some of what you wanted to share has already been said on this subject. But I have a two-part question for you. So could you please share, either from your research or experience, what you've learned about racial bias in policing? And what recommendations can you share based on evidence for addressing racial bias in policing? And so some of what you started to get at, Emily, here about, you know, relationship-building - that might be some of what you speak to. But I just wondered - I think it's, you know - the question of race and policing is so poignant right now that I wanted to make space, in particular, for this question. And, Michael, I don't - would you like to start us out?

0:34:41:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: Sure. So for those that are not familiar with, kind of, how I've approached my work on police in the past, my current book project is based off of ethnographic observations and interviews with officers across three cities. Basically, spending a lot of time with them is what I did. This began in 2014, went on through 2019, and what I've come to realize first is that explicit bias among officers is real. Any number of investigations have found things like the secret Facebook groups, some recent horrifying stories in the Los Angeles County sheriff's office of these informal gangs that arise - those things are real. But it is also true that the problem of race and policing is not so much a story of monsters; it's a story of men. It's a story of systems and structures. And so in my time with police, I did not see what I think many perceive to be the modal case of bias and racism, which would be something akin to a Rodney King beating, something akin to George Floyd. Those things happen, but the story of race and racism in policing is much more nefarious and much more mundane. It's a story of why do police go to certain places all the time, year after year? We've designed a system that sends police disproportionately into particular places, and we measure their success based on particular things, namely crime and arrests and the reduction of violence. What has happened over the course of history, and police officers are very much products and producers of that history - they didn't make the system, but they continue to remake it today - is one in which they are, in some ways, rewarded for perpetuating this deep connection between Blackness and race and violence and crime and place. That is not a story of individual bias. I wish it was actually as easy to say that if we had a good enough screening mechanism, we could just net out all of the racist officers and there wouldn't be a problem, but all of our evidence suggests that it's not that you can diversify departments to the point of reducing racial bias in force. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest that minority officers might use force more often than white officers, particularly against individuals of their own race. This is not a story, really, of training. There's very limited evidence that things like procedural justice training or implicit bias training actually manifest in decreases in behavior, which is what Emily alluded to earlier, in the field, even if they shift attitudes on things like surveys before and after training. So the big question of, so what do we do about it then - I think it is actually a very fundamental question about rethinking what is policing? What do we want from police? Just measuring things like crime and arrests and reductions in violence after decades and decades of decreases in those things, but assuming that that's still the right metric, maybe doesn't make a ton of sense. Or at the very least, it's expanding what we decide we want to measure success as, and then appropriately changing the system that we currently have and currently understand to be the only one that policing can be.

0:37:56:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Michael, before we move on, just because of what you just shared, I noticed a question in the Q&A that's kind of connected to your comments. So I want to stick on this question for the other panelists, but just wanted a follow-up question to Michael. So there was a question of if there's a - if you had learned anything in terms of educational levels of police and their use of excessive force. So I wondered if, you know, as you shared your comments - I know you mentioned trainings and what you've learned about working with officers, but is there anything about educational levels, in particular, that you wanted to speak to?

0:38:32:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: Sure. I believe a recent study came out that showed that college-educated officers actually engage in ticketing and arrests more often than non-college-educated officers. That's not the same thing as force. It's actually not clear. As with a lot of things in policing, it's actually very decentralized. You really - you probably shouldn't compare a sheriff's department in Georgia to the NYPD, and you shouldn't compare that department to the Austin Police Department for a variety of reasons - resource-wise, training-wise, population-wise. It's not clear that just educating officers better in terms of a college degree is going to shift things like excessive force, but I don't know of any clear-cut effect of things like educating officers and reducing force. That said, one thing that is fairly consistent in the literature on force is that older officers, more experienced officers - those things tend to go hand in hand - they don't use force as often and they get fewer complaints. There seems to be a pretty robust relationship whereby officers early in their career get complaints, and then it trails off markedly. And most officers get at least one complaint, but there's very few of these high-complaint, high-use-of-force officers. I think that the evidence is still evolving on this, but as - in my time with officers, I do believe that there is something to be said for the age at which officers begin becoming police officers. There are very few contexts where it's reasonable to give a 21-year-old a weapon and arrest powers. Car insurance companies figured out a long time ago - you don't rent cars to 21-year-old men because they crash them and they engage in lots of risky behaviors. They figured out that it was 25. Brain science shows us that the frontal lobe is developing until the age of 25 in men, but we systematically hire young men to become police officers. That's something that could be reconsidered, and that's just age. You're going to get more educated people if you do that. You're going to get people that have families, that drink less, that fight less. And these are all things that are just part of the life course that could, presumably also reduce things like excessive force. I do want to make the caveat, though, this is a theory based off of my work and insights from other fields. I don't know of anyone that's been able to isolate the effect of being 25 versus 21 and whether or not that makes you less likely to use force.

0:40:57:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: OK. Thank you, Michael. So just to restate the question to the other two panelists, the original question was about if you could share either from your research or experience what you've learned about racial bias in policing and what recommendations you have for addressing this.

0:41:18:>>WALTER KATZ: Go ahead, Emily.

0:41:20:>>EMILY OWENS: OK, sure. Thanks, Walter. And we were both sort of, like, looking at each other, like...

0:41:24:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: I should have directed you.

0:41:25:>>EMILY OWENS: You know, one, there is, I think, coming from - so I'm an economist by training. And economists have done a lot of research on trying to identify and measure racial bias, both, you know, in many, many contexts and in policing as well. There have been fewer studies. I really generally point to two, one by Paul Heaton, published in the Journal of Law and Economics, and one by Justin McCrary that was published in the American Economic Review. Both - they are both becoming dated - they're about 10 years old - that have actually looked at, like, a policy change on any type of racial bias or racial disparity in policing. So Justin McCrary looked at the impact of hiring more Black police officers in response to affirmative action-type lawsuits and found that when departments were sort of forced to hire more Black officers, crime rates didn't really change. But the fraction of people who are arrested who were Black fell, which was, I think, some pretty interesting, compelling kind of causal evidence, not on force, but on sort of who gets arrested. And I want to highlight, you know, if you can have fewer people arrested but not have crime change, that suggests to me that some of the people who you were arresting were not really - like, did those arrests really need to happen? It's not like they were really reducing crime. This seems like policing that was mainly cost policing as opposed to benefit policing. Paul Heaton took a look at what happened to crime rates and arrests in New Jersey after it started relative to other states after one of their big racial profiling scandals in the 1990s. And he found evidence that officer is going to pull back or arrested fewer Black people after they were subject to sort of intense scrutiny about who they pulled over. But there was also an increase in car thefts in more Black neighborhoods, which is a little bit of the sort of under and overpolicing trade-off. There is - I agree with everything Michael said about sort of the state of the research. There are some things that are suggestive, but again, what we've always prioritized is crime as opposed to communities and legitimacy. Something, though, that people, you know, people respond to incentives. Something that I would encourage, you know, practitioners to think hard about is, again, you know, police will enforce laws. They will to some extent do the best they can, do what they are told to do. And what this means is that when there, you know, are laws or policies on the books that, you know, the practitioner audience has the ability to change that are disparately affecting Black or Latino/Latina communities, you know, things like low-level drug possession - to name one that's brought up quite frequently as having a disparate racial impact - changing those laws so police are no longer asked to make so many arrests in communities of color, like, that'll work. Like, if you tell police to do something different through the structure of laws. That's not addressing what Michael's identified as, like, explicit racism, but it's - you guys do have the ability to change the parameters of police officers' jobs. Something that the Racial And Identity Profiling Act data collection in California has made clear in its first year of rollout is that, you know, of Black people who are stopped by the sort of largest agencies in California, you know, 20 - almost a quarter of them, like 23% are searched, which is way out of proportion in any other identity group in terms of race or ethnicity. Three percent of people - of Black people who were stopped in California are searched only because they were on parole or probation. That's the only reason the police officer said they conducted that search. And three percent's not a lot, but that's twice as high a rate as sort of a second-highest group, which are people who are Native American or Hispanic. And so that's a real policy that's leading to this difference in contact that's not - you know, officers are instructed, you know, if someone's on parole or probation, you can search them. Well, that's disproportionately affecting Black people in California in terms of their experience with police. And that's a real tractable thing that could be changed regardless of what officers' beliefs are.

0:45:48:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, that was a helpful example. Walter, did you want to respond to this question at all?

0:45:53:>>WALTER KATZ: Yeah. I think we could almost focus the entire hour or whatever we have just on this one question. So a couple of things. You know, this is where the bridge from the academics to the practical is shown perfectly, which Michael talked about this research about younger officers. You know, younger officers tend to use force more and they pick up more complaints. And, in fact, some recent research from Andy Papachristos at Northwestern suggests that just removing those officers in the first five years - if you were theoretically to remove officers who have more complaints in the first five years of their career, would we see less force incidents happened later on? And his posit was, no, not necessarily. And I think I have an idea why about this younger officers use more force. And that goes back to the practical. When I was the police auditor for the city of San Jose, our use-of-force data and use-of-force complaint data suggested the same thing. You know, city of San Jose had somewhere around a thousand officers. We could look at cohorts by year, zero through two years, two to five years of service, five to 10 years. And sure enough, those officers who are about one to two years of experience, that group is outsized in using force. And there is something else interesting about it. Those officers often work together. And there is something else interesting about that. The sergeants who they worked with were also brand-new sergeants. And geographically, those force incidents tended to come from the precinct which is in the eastern side of San Jose, which happens to be the most heavily Latino neighborhood in San Jose. So what does that all mean from a practical effect? Why? Well, here's why. Because the way the police union contract is written is a bid system, that the most experienced officers get first dibs at assignment and shift. So the most experienced patrol officers are working their quietest districts in day shifts. The least-experienced officers are working the, quote unquote, "busy" districts during the midnight shifts. And it's those shifts when you have the highest likelihood of encountering people who are intoxicated, higher rates of domestic violence calls, and with less experienced supervision, these officers will be more likely to engage in force to resolve problems. So that's taken the - what we know from the research and saying, well, how do we crack that at the practical level? Why is it that those conditions exist? And as you start unraveling these conditions, you start understanding where those racial disparities come from. What's another example? In the 1950s and early 1960s, across the United States, interstate highways were being built. And when interstate highways were being built through cities, they tended to be built through Black neighborhoods. And those are the neighborhoods which got destroyed and got moved. Well, now look at a lot of cities and look how precinct maps look like. Guess what? The precinct borders often very much match up to the border of an expressway. So in Chicago, I can tell you exactly where the Third District ends. I can tell you where the Fifth District ends. And very often the border is an expressway. On one side, less diverse communities who were primarily African American and the other side white communities. And so you're building in systemic racism by doing something as simple as building freeways 50 years earlier and then mapping your freeway, your precincts on something which is very easy - a natural physical border. So policymakers and decision-makers need to really think through, what are the conditions? What is the environment? What does the research tell you? And then understand, what are those factors which are now contributing to these outcomes, like younger officers using force more often against minority residents?

0:50:02:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, Walter. Wow. My mind is swimming from all these comments. This is just really meaty stuff. And I wish we had another day to be on this webinar, but I know that we're winding down in time. And there's been quite a robust conversation in the Q&A with some different questions. So we may not be able to get to all of them, although I will try. But I wanted to surface a few questions from the crowd. And what I would say is for the panelists is maybe we don't have to feel pressure for all three people to respond to each of these, but just feel free to kind of self-nominate if you feel like it's a question you can respond to well. So the first question I have is a research question. So the question is, has there been any research into the ways calls are dispatched and if that has any influence on how law enforcement officers respond to the call? For example, could dispatch methods be used to help prepare the officer to approach a situation in a way that would help de-escalate?

0:51:12:>>EMILY OWENS: So actually, Jessica Gillooly, who is currently a postdoc at the policing project that I believe Walter mentioned, has been researching exactly that. She actually worked at a call center while she was completing her Ph.D. And she finds, in a nutshell, her research says, yes, it does matter - right? - that dispatchers that are feeding police officers information is really quite important in the way they subsequently respond. So yeah, Jessica Gillooly at NYU, that should be a good person to cite in the resource list that I think we're putting together.

0:51:51:>>WALTER KATZ: Yeah. I'd also add that a lot of research is occurring in 911 and calls for service. There are significant issues in terms of the bridge of information from call taker to dispatcher. The Vera Institute for Justice - I'm not sure they've published it yet, but it is a project that we funded at Arnold Ventures which did a deep study of call for service data in Camden County, N.J., as well as Tucson. And then they've built on that by looking at Tucson's criteria-based dispatch model, where they are getting smarter about how call-takers assess the calls coming in and how to best deploy the resources. This question about giving good information to officers is critical. It is called priming, and research does support that if you give too little information, it can be very dangerous. For example, when Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy, was killed by officers in Cleveland playing with a toy gun, the caller said twice to the call-taker, I think it may be a toy gun. And that information was not relayed by the dispatcher to the police officers responding to the playground.

0:53:02:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: On the note of priming, another piece of research on what I think is being called dispatch priming, specifically, by Paul Taylor - I've sent that link in to add to the resources. But the Gloopy finding of the paper - it's experimental in nature. If you give wrong information, it increases errors. And that has been - now been found to be a robust relationship. On the note of the situation with the information given to officers, what some of my work points to - which is a very sticky problem; I don't know if I have a concrete solution - is that in some cases, whether or not you would have given the information about a toy gun, it's not entirely clear that it would have changed the outcome, in part because officers are explicitly trained that it doesn't really matter if the gun looks like a toy, if it might be a toy. The fact is, is that it might actually be a lethal weapon, and they will approach the situation in that particular way, regardless of what information they get. And, in fact, many officers are already very skeptical of information they get from dispatch because of how many times they arrive at calls and the actual situation is nothing like what dispatch actually put out. And so there is something to be said for trying to make that information more accurate. In and of itself, it is unlikely to solve the underlying issue of how officers are trained to see the world, as one in which threat is around every corner, where every call might devolve into violence at any moment and which encourages them to take steps, a variety of steps, to ensure that, no matter what, they, quote-unquote, "go home at night."

0:54:36:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. So another question that we have is, how can we address the bias inherent in publicly available data sources and thus recommend evidence-based policies when conclusions are based on biased data? Difficult question to answer, but I thought I'd put it out there.

0:55:03:>>EMILY OWENS: Pressing the wrong unmute button. Yeah. I mean, the answer is to start collecting more data, right? I mean, that's something that has a clear answer to it, right? And something that actually just occurred to me - this is a really - the timing of this question is really good because that - Tamir Rice sort of flagged one of these bigger issues - was that, you know, that officer had lost his job because of failing to successfully complete firearms training and moved to a different department. Something that I have encountered when talking to, you know, both, you know, lawmakers and practitioners and police officers is concerns about privacy, in particular data privacy. So what types of data are departments willing to release that both, you know, keeps their officers safe and doesn't sort of dox them or identify them and also doesn't, you know, provide just information out into the general public that could actually become very problematic or damaging? And something to remember or highlight is a whole other field of research of data security - privacy protections and the ability of research institutes to really secure data is something - that's a field that's advancing every single day. And I would encourage, again, as you guys are drawing the rules for how you fix bias in data and how you start collecting, you know, measuring what matters to you and your communities, to not just assume that you can make data wholly public or you can keep it locked and siloed in an agency and really talk to data scientists, talk to members of your local research community, you know, at your local university and figure out what the cutting edge is for data security and data privacy because I feel like you can probably do a lot more in terms of letting people have access to data and solve these problems for you than you might think.

0:57:05:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, Emily. Michael, just a quick...

0:57:09:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: Yeah, just a quick follow-up. On the note of local, I think that it's becoming increasingly clear that waiting for the federal government to produce the data that we want is not the answer, right? So you've seen crowdsourced stuff, like mapping police violence, The Washington Post, the counted - that arose from grassroots data collection. Some states are doing better than others. So I mentioned this - California's URSUS is arguably the best use-of-force data collected at the state level. Other states can do that. Some individual departments collect good data. For people operating at the local level, it likely behooves you to look locally for the best quality data you can get for either your municipality or your state or your county and, frankly, not wait around for NIBRS to catch up or wait around for LEOKA or the UCR or any of those things to get better. The problem is now, and the solution is likely to be local, state level, right now.

0:58:05:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. So I wanted to note that we're at 4 o'clock. I believe that our panelists can actually stay until 4:15. Is that accurate? So we're going to take a few more questions for those of you who can stay. But I did want to say, for those of you who have to depart for another meeting, we're so glad that you joined us, and we will be sharing a really rich email of resources that the panelists have shared so that you can access some of this research and information. But for those who would like to stay, we'll continue with a few more questions. So the next question is really about the justice system continuum. So someone asked - please speak to the importance of police working with court and probation partners to support the continuation of justice and policing reforms and long-term services and oversight outside of intermittent police contacts with the same populations. So I guess the question is, if you could speak to - if there's research about other aspects of the justice system that connect to police reform.

0:59:28:>>WALTER KATZ: I can't speak directly to the research. I can talk, though, about both alternatives to arrest or diversion or multiagency responses. And I think the question is getting at the question of, do we - if somebody is, for example, in a vulnerable population - which includes substance use disorder, people living with mental illness, chronically homeless - who are often in direct contact with law enforcement and, in many communities, arrest is the solution to an acute problem, rather than seeking resources for the individual - are there other options that a jurisdiction can consider? And I think those are developing, and they're developing relatively rapidly. So one of the projects, for example, that we're finding in our ventures is called data-driven justice. And that is being able to use data - just like Emily was talking about - in a smart way across agencies to identify high-utilizers of service and to connect them with resources and services other than relying on unarrest. So that when a police officer, for example, one who is working the homeless population beat, comes into contact with somebody, he may have an iPad-type device with him, and he can pretty much very quickly access whether or not the individual is also seeking services from public health or from mental health services or from homeless services and then perhaps connect that person to the alternative resource, rather than relying upon arrest. And there's some challenges with that, and some of those challenges are very much just data challenges. So, for example, in the city of Chicago, there's a project called MHRT which is trying to connect people who come in contact with law enforcement to mental health resources, especially if the fire department contacts. One of the - and to get them into a project called Thresholds, which is more of a high-intensity intervention. The challenge is how do we tie data, which may be with the fire department, to what is accessible to the police department? So those are some of the challenges which policymakers have to work themselves through. Through HIPAA and private health information, how do they utilize that in an effective manner, which maintains privacy but at the same time allows for alternative responses?

1:02:02:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. So we've got another question. Sorry. Emily, did you want to say something? No? We've got a couple of questions, actually, about basically how to support police officers and their own development in terms of - someone described it as emotional intelligence of police officers. Someone else described it as, how can we get the good apples to help fix or eliminate the bad apples? Which to me evokes maybe, like, peer mentoring programs or some kind of professional development programs for police. I know that some of you have touched on this a little bit in terms of, like, racial bias trainings and things like that. But I just wondered if there's any other things you want to share about supporting polices - police officers in their sort of personal development.

1:03:05:>>EMILY OWENS: So I was waiting to see if Michael would jump in. And there he...

1:03:09:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: Yeah. So I will - I think the unfortunate part of this is that research on what that looks like is sparse, in part because of how closed departments are. And I think this is a good place to bring in what I think is very much, like, the blue elephant in the room, which is police unions that are an especially sealed-off portion of policing. If you think it's hard to get access, to do research in a department, you should try and talk to union leadership and as an outsider in particular. I can speak for myself; It wasn't easy. I think that what happens is that there are mechanisms that exist within and outside of the police department that are actively dissuading officers from, quote-unquote, "ratting" or turning in officers that are engaged in misconduct. Now, that problem certainly extends to very, very serious misconduct, but that's actually the misconduct that would be the most likely to be reported. And I think that what evidence is beginning to show is that we tend to focus to those really awful cases of misconduct, including the excessive use of lethal force, to the exclusion of the day-to-day disrespect, the day-to-day infringements on liberty that slowly eat away at the legitimacy and trust of police, which is already very damaged in many, many communities dating back decades and decades. I think part of the issue is that many officers don't actually see that as misconduct. They don't understand that those things violate their code of conduct. They violate their oath of office. How do you fix that? I think that comes back to this very difficult question of, how do you shift culture? How do you shift what police believe themselves to be, what they believe their mandate to be? If it's about arrests and reducing crime and protecting each other at all costs, it becomes easier to justify things like disrespect. It becomes easier to justify those small things that all officers do or that are seen as simple mistakes that maybe rookies make or that everyone makes from time to time. And that's where I come back to unions. Unions are a powerful mechanism for perpetuating that view of policing that in many cases operates separate from the police department. They operate with their own coffers. They operate with their own political will, their own political power. And so I guess the short answer is the unions are a real barrier to making those changes actually happen in police departments. Even when you do have officers that recognize that they need to be reporting people, they do correctly intuit that there will be tremendous resistance.

1:05:45:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: And it's interesting that you mention unions, Michael, because actually the next question I was going to ask everyone is, how can we make police unions part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

1:05:59:>>WALTER KATZ: That's a challenging question. I'll take a first crack at it. You know, it kind of all depends. You know, I've worked in one city where I try to maintain as police auditor a relatively cordial relationship with the police union. And I think that was moderately effective. I've been in another city where there's a very hostile relationship between police union leadership and city leadership. And that made it extraordinarily difficult. When - you know, when for example, a city is trying to negotiate a consent decree with the DOJ and police union leadership goes directly to the DOJ and tries to undercut and dissuade DOJ from seeking a consent decree, now, what does that signal? That signals that that union is really not interested in reform. I think there are some interesting research which really comes out of the work from the legal community. I'd recommend reading some recent research by John Rappaport from University of Chicago Law School. I believe he's a law professor and an economist. Stephen Rushin - R-U-S-H-I-N - and Stephen Rushin from Loyola of Los Angeles Law School. There's some really interesting research coming out from Rob Gillezeau from University of Victoria in Canada looking at the relationship between the onset of collective bargaining and increases in fatal use of force. And at least preliminarily what he is seeing is that not only is there an increase in the use of force, but disparities in that use of force. John Rappaport and his colleagues, they looked at the beginning of collective bargaining in the state of Florida. Florida is interesting because their police officers could not - law enforcement officials could not engage in collective bargaining. But in Florida, something interesting happened. Sheriff's deputies first got the right to collective bargaining before municipal police officers. So professor Rappaport and his colleagues were able to go to that moment in time and say, what were the differences in behavior for sheriff's deputies before and after they got collective bargaining and compared that to municipal officers who had the steady state of no collective bargaining? And what we saw was an increase in misconduct. So there is a connection there between what they call the code of silence, the thin blue line with increased use of force, potential disparities. And so I think working with unions is - can be a challenge. They have to be willing to, though. And very often you see union leadership - and here's one of those other little wrinkles - there are many police unions where the current rank-and-file officers are relatively progressive, but quite a few police unions where retired members are also still members of that union and, in fact, are in leadership positions within that union. So these were officers maybe in the '80s and in the '70s who have a much more old-school perception about policing than younger officers, yet they're driving the politics of that union.

1:09:25:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you.

1:09:26:>>EMILY OWENS: I'd also like to mention the work of Felipe Goncalves at UCLA, who's also doing a lot of research on unionization in policing and the impact of police unions and collective bargaining agreements. It's really, really interesting. He's in the economics department there at UCLA. You know, I want to come back to a point I made earlier about procedural justice. Right? And I'd also bring it back to the underlying survey about common ground. You know, there are certain things that I think unions also want to highlight what Michael Flag does for police officers who want to go home at the end of the day. There are, I think, a lot of areas of agreement about what could be made better about policing. And one of the big ones is how to deal with people having mental health crises where police officers are asked to respond. And they have one tool in their toolkit, which is a criminal justice response - right? - which is not appropriate and is both dangerous for an officer and dangerous for an individual, right? And thinking about ways in which we can make officers safer and also, you know, get more of what the public wants, which is a mental health solution to a mental health crisis, not a criminal justice solution to a criminal justice crisis. That's finding some areas of common agreement about what, you know, police unions feel is in their officers' best interest and what is also in the community's interest. Because in many communities, police are the last government service left in town. And they're left dealing with a lot. And I think a lot of the conflict between police and communities they police is because the police have one response - right? - and that's not always what the community needs. Those are things I think the unions can potentially get behind, and if given an opportunity to have some input into the decision-making process, which is something you need to have for procedural justice within any organization, that's a potentially important strategy to not overlook.

1:11:21:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you, Emily. That was great. So I want to wrap us up, but I like to end with a proactive stance. So I wondered if each panelist very briefly could just recommend a next step or two for participants today, just in terms of, you know, how do communities get started in making these difficult decisions, especially when there's so much research out there, you know, what would the next step be to try to start integrating this into actual policy-making and decision-making?

1:11:58:>>MICHAEL SIERRA-ARÉVALO: I think something that can be done tonight is start finding people in your community or nearby that have already been doing this work. They exist. They're there. They're community-based. Sometimes they're in the police department. It can be an enterprising sergeant or lieutenant that's on their evidence-based kick, but they're just kind of alone. It can be a researcher. It can be any number of people. But that can be a very valuable first step is to get that conversation started. Reaching out to somebody in D.C. might seem like the right move, but they don't know your town. They don't know your city. They don't know the players. And this is all local. All politics is local. And so find people near you that understand the challenges of your context and begin that conversation because this is not something that can be done alone. And there are people that have been waiting and have always wanted to become part of the solution to these enduring problems.

1:12:51:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. Any other next steps before we wrap up?

1:12:57:>>EMILY OWENS: I would reiterate what Michael said has a strong evidence base behind it, I would say. And that was essentially what I was going to - you know, first step is to try the best you can to figure out what the problems in your community are. And that includes talking to not just the people who show up for coffee with a cop, but really, you know, looking out in your community and seeing who is there and who is impacted by the criminal justice system and hearing what they have to say - impact defined broadly. In terms of what evidence we have on what works in policing, something that I have noticed is that the more broad the recommendation, more police officers on the street have them do something - problem-solving, which really is figure out what your problem is, you know, and address that specifically. Those are the things that work. Telling someone specifically, hey, here's exactly the policy that you should implement down to what the officers are supposed to do, those tend to not be effective because contexts vary. So you can go to the federal government for money, but talk to the people in your community about what the problem really is, and try to define it as precisely as you can.

1:14:03:>>WALTER KATZ: And to build on that, once you've identified the problem as precisely as possible, be very clear about the goals of your intervention. If, for example, your jurisdiction - you want to deploy body-worn cameras, you have a number of stakeholders who are very interested in the policies and the transparency in, how is the body-worn camera footage going to be used? What is it supposed to solve for? And so that includes police officers. That includes community members. That includes domestic violence survivor organizations who want to know whether or not the cameras are going to be running when an officer is talking to someone who's been the victim of abuse just inside their apartment. So you really want to be able to set those goals at the outset. And goals set expectations. And expectation setting helps decrease disappointment further down the road if there's a mismatch between the intervention and the goals.

1:14:58:>>QUIXADA MOORE-VISSING: Thank you. I want to thank all the panelists for staying over time and all the participants for staying over time. I know how valuable time is right now. We will be sending you a follow-up email. Thank you for the really rich and important discussion. And I liked the theme that the panelists have left us with, which is, I think, like a Mister Rogers quote that there are helpers everywhere. So that's a good thing to remember. So we will end for today. And thank you all so much. Bye-bye.

Event Contact

Erin Saybolt

Program Assistant, AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues