Officer training and wellness programs, positive involvement in youth recreation, and support of family services highlight the survey
The first-ever nationwide survey of police foundations titled Positive Community-Police Engagement Report, analyzed programs, training, and other methods of support, confirming the key role these groups play in public safety.
Police practitioners and research partners conducted the survey, including President/CEO of The Bowman Group and former Arlington (TX) Chief of Police Dr. Theron Bowman and IDEA Analytics CEO and Research Director Dr. Jessica Herbert, a former detective at the Fairfax county sheriff’s office. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, one of the country’s largest public safety foundations, commissioned the survey.
Fifty-eight police foundations participated in the evidence-based approach, and findings of the report recognized examples of constructive community-police engagement across the board. Additionally, the study identified areas needing improvement, leading to more productive community dialogue and future awareness, support, and expansion of police foundations across the nation.
“Overall, the findings validate the role that foundations like ours serve in acting as an important conduit for productive dialogue and support between communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them,” said Executive Director of the LVMPD Foundation Tom Kovach. “A large percentage of communities may not even recognize that these police foundations exist, but this study establishes that our organizations are essential to making meaningful improvement in public safety.”
Police foundations have been in operation for 50 years, and there are 250 such nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada. As foundations continue to form, more is needed to understand promising practices; this report provides great feedback to seeing where foundations can bridge the gap and create future programming and support.
The report highlighted examples of supportive community-police engagement from police foundations covering small, medium, and large cities. The results represented jurisdictions with populations totaling more than 39 million people and police/sheriff departments with more than 50,000 sworn members. With the unrest of 2020, it is essential to look at the findings to reflect, learn, and adapt. Highlights of the Positive Community-Police Engagement Report include:
- Police foundations reported continued support for police officer training and wellness programming, with de-escalation and crisis intervention training listed as the most common training police foundations fund. Similarly, 62% of police foundations surveyed indicated they support officer wellness programs. This data means an estimated 31,000 police officers/sheriff deputies across the nation could be eligible for wellness services via police foundation support. It could ensure officers are better trained and job stressors affecting their health are addressed via funding raised by community-based police foundations.
- Nearly 78% of police foundation respondents supported their respective police/sheriff departments engaging in positive community youth and police programming involving sports, arts, education, and recreation activities. Moreover, 65% of these police foundations also funded programming supporting essential needs for local youth and their families. Totaling the populations of cities whose police foundations participated in the survey could translate to police foundations supporting essential community needs for more than 25 million people nationwide.
- Half of the police foundations surveyed also supported many adult engagement initiatives. Specifically, 41% of police foundation respondents funded community-led safety/crime prevention programming, and nearly 30% supported family programs, such as parenting classes. Some foundations even reported funding community-based career initiatives such as general resume and job-training programs specifically focused on public safety career programs.
- With communities seeking transparency in weapons funding and use, the report showed that although nearly 80% of police foundations surveyed funded technology and equipment, but only 14% supported weapons. The survey found no data to support police foundations funding police department militarization. The survey also showed that less than 10% supported gun detection technology. Additionally, the data showed that police foundations supported different kinds of local police department technology and equipment needs. The most common support is for service animals (mounted units, bomb dogs, etc.) and community-police communications and emergency or critical incident response efforts. Based on results, police foundations are optimally positioned to support technology and equipment pilot programs which could be tools in preventing future crimes and creating better officer response times.
This survey will be presented to police foundations across the U.S. in the coming months, and it is hoped that data and examples will assist community members engaged in current conversations surrounding building better relationships with police to view police foundations as successful, existing community-based nonprofit partners. To read the full Positive Community-Police Engagement Report, please visit policefoundationreport.org
Interview opportunities are available with Dr. Jessica Herbert, Analytics CEO and Research Director; Dr. Theron Bowman, President/CEO of The Bowman Group and former Arlington (TX) Chief of Police and former Arlington (TX) Chief of Police; and Tom Kovach, Executive Director of LVMPD Foundation.
B-roll featuring community engagement activities, as well as soundbites with Dr. Theron Bowman, President/CEO of The Bowman Group and former Arlington (TX) Chief of Police; Tom Kovach, Executive Director of LVMPD Foundation; and LVMPD Office of Community Engagement Officer Arnold Parker, available here.