The Protecting Citizens' Civil Rights Project, funded by Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), is grounded on the premise that the core mission of police agencies should encompass the protection of community members’ civil rights along with the enforcement of laws and the maintenance of public safety. The mutual trust that is engendered by policing practices that are respectful, fair, and unbiased is the critical element in establishing strong police-community partnerships. The mere perception of mistreatment, disrespect, or disengagement of the community on the part of the police can be immensely damaging. Cultivating and sustaining these partnerships can help the police be more effective in the myriad duties and responsibilities carried out by modern law enforcement agencies.
The project‘s key deliverable, expected in August of 2005, will be a promising practices guide for law enforcement executives. This guide will integrate information from various sources and provide executives with a basis for assessing and enhancing their own agencies' standing with regard to guaranteeing and promoting civil rights. Information from numerous sources will be integrated into a guide that is intended to serve as a desk reference for police executives.
- Ten years of "pattern or practice" data from agencies that have been under federal monitors for civil rights violations will be assessed from a lessons learned perspective. Knowing where other agencies went astray and how they remedied those situations can provide practical guidance for police executives.
- Relevant literature on issues related to civil rights – such as racial profiling and excessive force – will be summarized.
- Exemplary or model policies that promote civil rights protections and enhancements will be highlighted.
- Promising practices from a variety of law enforcement agencies will be featured.
- The role of police leaders who have developed exemplary vision and agency approaches to civil rights will be emphasized.
The challenges of developing practices that simultaneously assure civil rights protections and public safety are complex and critical. The environment in which police officers must operated is ever changing; expectations have been affected greatly by the events of September 11th 2001 as well as by changes brought about by new technology and related practices. In consideration of this complex and dynamic backdrop, IACP is relying on a diverse group of project partners and subject matter experts as the guide is being developed. The project is undertaken with in partnership with federal agencies – including the COPS office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice – and representatives from municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Information related to police agencies that are now being or have been investigated by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is available on the webpage of their Special Litigation Section.