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How to Increase Cultural Understanding

Recognizing the vital importance of trust to community cooperation, public safety, and national security, the Vera Institute worked with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to research and write this three-part series, which provides practical, field-informed guidance for creating positive, productive relations with all members of our multi-racial, multi-ethnic American population. To engage with their communities, law enforcement must understand their needs and concerns. This guide explores the history of law enforcement's relations with African Americans and offers strategies for overcoming past mistakes, building trusting relationships, and using mediation and other means for increasing dialogue and reducing tension after contentious incidents. Although the practices and strategies featured in this series may focus on building relationships between police agencies and specific communities, the majority of these insights are dynamic enough to be applied with multiple racial and ethnic groups. The descriptions of programs and practices, together with multiple tips detailed in this guidebook series, are intended to be a resource for officers of all levels—from the patrol officer interacting with a specific racial or ethnic community to the police chief seeking to transform his or her agency into one that embodies community policing and facilitates community trust building at all levels.

Published: 2016