Police-Community Relations

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Communities rely on police departments to "protect and serve" and the police, in turn, rely on community support and cooperation, but the relationship is not always harmonious. RAND researchers have examined the relationships between law enforcement agencies and their communities in several countries.

  • Officer Jose Ibarra and clinical therapist Cynthia Ferreiro (far left) assist a man in Indio, California, photo courtesy of Indio Police Department

    Essay

    Rethinking How Police Respond to Homelessness

    Mar 4, 2021

    Around one-fifth of people experiencing homelessness have a severe mental health disorder. Almost as many have a substance-use disorder. Police need better policies and community partnerships to help make their response to homelessness safer, more humane, and more effective.

  • A person pays their respects at a mural of George Floyd after the verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Denver, Colorado, April 20, 2021, photo by Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

    Commentary

    Policing in the Post-Floyd Era

    Apr 30, 2021

    Calls to reform, reimagine, or disband the police can be seen as existential threats. But they present opportunities for progressive change that can work to the advantage of law enforcement.

Explore Police-Community Relations

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: March-April 2021

    The cover story highlights research on improving the police response to homelessness; a second feature focuses on the millions of caregivers who provide support services to chronically ill loved ones but are not integrated into health care teams.

    Mar 11, 2021

  • A group of people stacking their hands together, photo by pixelfit/Getty Images

    Multimedia

    RAND Remote Series: Advancing Racial Equity Policy

    In this video conversation, RAND's Anita Chandra and Benjamin Preston discuss RAND's efforts to address the challenges of racial equity from a variety of angles—and options for converting research into action.

    Oct 6, 2020

  • Blog

    The Evidence on Kids and COVID-19, China's Use of Big Data, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what we know (and what we don't) about kids and COVID-19, how China is using big data, the future of telemedicine, and more.

    Sep 4, 2020

  • Blog

    Voting in a Pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service, Defunding the Police: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Americans' views about voting in the age of COVID-19, what makes the U.S. Postal Service so essential, why some in law enforcement may be open to “defunding the police,” and more.

    Aug 28, 2020

  • An illustration of people from diverse racial backgrounds. Image by Lyubov Ivanova / Getty Images

    Content

    RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

    RAND's Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy supports a portfolio of innovative, high-impact racial equity research and analysis, creates a clearinghouse to help coordinate related efforts, and collaborates with organizations dedicated to advancing racial equity.

    Aug 25, 2020

  • Police continue their patrols as officials begin what they are calling a slow and methodical clean-up and removal of a large homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River Trail in Anaheim, California, January 22, 2018, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Report

    The Law Enforcement Response to Homelessness

    Despite lacking the tools and resources to address the underlying causes of homelessness, police are constantly under pressure from business leaders and communities to “fix” it. Some law enforcement agencies are trying new approaches, but they need support to improve these efforts.

    Aug 25, 2020

  • NYPD officers distribute face masks in Washington Square Park, New York City, May 10, 2020, photo by nycshooter/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Police Officers: This Article Will Make You Better at Combatting Misinformation

    By deliberately addressing misinformation, police officers can promote safe and healthy behaviors among those in their communities. The actions they take to combat misinformation and improve protections in their communities are a critical part of the collective campaign to end the pandemic and help people return to their normal lives.

    Aug 24, 2020

  • Camden County Police officers patrol on the streets of Camden, New Jersey, amid nationwide protests in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, June 11, 2020, photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Reuters

    Report

    Would Law Enforcement Leaders Support Defunding the Police?

    Police have expressed frustration with being expected to handle complex social problems such as homelessness and substance use. Budgeting less money for police and more for other public safety strategies might appeal to law enforcement if these efforts relieve some of the unrealistic expectations on them.

    Aug 20, 2020

  • Detroit police line up next to an armored vehicle following a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Detroit, Michigan, June 1, 2020, photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Commentary

    How to Reform Military Gear Transfers to Police

    Police officers equipped like soldiers have appeared on the streets of American cities amid recent protests over George Floyd's killing. How should lawmakers reform a program that makes use of excess equipment and is popular with police departments, but that also raises substantial concerns about the militarization of policing?

    Jul 13, 2020

  • Silhouettes of police and other people, photo by wildpixel/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How to Transform Policing

    The killing of George Floyd and other abuses of power have brought about growing calls to alter how we conduct public safety and, more broadly, criminal justice in America. Evidence shows there is substantial room for improvement.

    Jul 9, 2020

  • Blog

    Preparing for a COVID Surge, Reducing Police Violence, Media Literacy in Schools: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on helping hospitals prepare for a surge in COVID-19 infections, an approach to reducing police violence, teachers' concerns about students' media literacy, and more.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Police officers stand guard across Central Park West during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City, June 5, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Commentary

    From Warrior to Guardian: A Systems Approach to Reduce Police Violence

    Personal accountability will always have a role in policing. But the kind of cultural change that is necessary to prevent tragedy is often best tackled by focusing on the system rather than merely blaming the individual officer.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • A long line of police squad cars, photo by thall/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Funding—or Defunding—the Police

    With calls to reduce spending on police, a question becomes by how much? RAND researchers studied the average amount taxpayers spend for police to respond to a reported crime. These estimates are available in a new tool that makes it easy to visualize police costs per crime by state.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • A woman holds a placard as people protest outside Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters to demand that the Board of Education defunds school police in Los Angeles, California, June 23, 2020, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Commentary

    Defund the LAPD? Garcetti Budget Proposal Takes a Step in That Direction

    Calls to “defund the police” have grown common and urgent in the wake of police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and numerous other Black Americans. Research and community activists agree: Public safety can be improved by investing more public dollars in a social safety net, and less in policing and incarceration, in Los Angeles.

    Jun 30, 2020

  • Blog

    Protests and Police Reform, Facial Recognition, Gun Policies: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on protests and police reform after the killing of George Floyd, facial recognition bans, gun policies that likely reduce deaths, and more.

    Jun 19, 2020

  • Demonstrators march during a protest against racial inequality in Brooklyn after the killing of George Floyd, June 16, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Q&A

    Protests and Police Reform: Q&A with RAND Experts

    After the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and subsequent nationwide protests, the United States is seeing urgent action to reform policing. Here are insights from four RAND researchers who work on policing and community safety issues.

    Jun 18, 2020

  • Profile with fingerprint on a red background, photo by malerapaso/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Bans on Facial Recognition Are Naive. Hold Law Enforcement Accountable for Its Abuse

    Broader police reform may be difficult to achieve. But in the long run, it will be more effective than any specific technology ban.

    Jun 17, 2020

  • Seattle Police officer Robert Brown talks with protesters as other officers collect evidence at the CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) area after a fatal shooting as people occupy space in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Seattle, Washington, U.S. June 29, 2020.

    Multimedia

    Policies to Improve Policing in the U.S.

    In this Call with the Experts podcast, RAND researchers who work on policing and community safety issues share their insights on the recent Black Lives Matter protests and efforts to reform policing. They discuss findings from RAND research, what defunding the police means, and more.

    Jun 15, 2020