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Issues

Policing

Seattle police officers patrol a downtown park.

Law enforcement can build police-community trust and improve public safety through fair and effective policing.

The landscape of American policing is rapidly changing. There’s growing recognition that the harms caused by over-enforcement of low-level offenses may be too great, especially as crime rates stay persistently low in most major cities. Research shows little evidence that untargeted enforcement of low-level offenses reduces serious crime — and considerable evidence that it disproportionately harms communities of color. Additionally, police departments are strained by a high volume of calls for service on issues related to mental health, drug use, and homelessness. These same agencies are called upon to focus their resources on improving public safety, reducing violence, and promoting community well-being.

We seek to transform American policing by supporting projects that advance police effectiveness and increase positive encounters between police and the community. We work with partners to analyze enforcement trends, test policing strategies, and build a toolbox of effective responses and cross-agency partnerships to improve public safety and fiscal outcomes. And we help implement promising reforms, then rigorously study their impact on crime rates, local budgets, officer safety, and public confidence, particularly within communities most affected.

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Image: Seattle police officers patrol a downtown park in April 2015. A Seattle program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion aims to keep low-level drug offenders and prostitutes out of jail and give them services for housing, counseling, and job training. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

>240M
Estimated number of calls to 911 each year, the majority of which are unrelated to emergencies or crimes in progress
26%
Proportion of residents ages 16 and up who had at least one encounter with a police officer in 2011
80%
Proportion of the 10.7 million arrests made in 2016 that were for low-level offenses
>1M
Number of women on probation or parole

Requests for Proposals