IACP Communities of Color Toolkit

Bridging the Trust Gap Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color


The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's , Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), presents Bridging the Trust Gap Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color, a toolkit for law enforcement agencies.

The toolkit is organized into four sections

  1. Policing for Progress: Examples of initiatives championed by law enforcement agencies in an effort to build and maintain community trust
  2. Steps to Building Trust: Concrete steps for executive-and command--level officers, frontline officers, and community stakeholders to promote communication, partnership, and trust
  3. Sample Community Surveys: Law enforcement-driven questionnaires to determine the condition of the community, evaluate future needs, and collect information about the public’s perception of law enforcement
  4. IACP and COPS Office Resources: Guides, reports, and other tools

The IACP convened three focus groups of community stakeholders, frontline officers, and law enforcement executives to discuss building community trust. They discussed  strategies that have been used successfully to develop communities of trust and identified challenges facing law enforcement and the community.  This toolkit collects some of the most successful strategies, and tools for engaging communities of color, here defined as people of African, Latino or Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Island descent. 

The United States comprises a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and beliefs.  Each community has unique challenges. At the same time, policing agencies are also complex and use a wide variety of policies and procedures to enforce the law. Diverse communities, coupled with diverse police organizations, accentuate the complexity of police-community relationships.

Communities of color have faced many decades of real and perceived mistreatment by the justice system and law enforcement, leading to fear, anger, resentment, and distrust. Communities of color often feel marginalized and mistreated. Recognizing and responding to mistrust lies at the heart of building stronger community-police relationships.  This requires a variety of resources, protocols, policies, strategies, and training. Communities of color and police must continue to join forces to create safe environments. In this toolkit we share a number of promising programs working to improve community-police relations on a daily basis.


This project was supported by cooperative agreement number 2014-CK-WX-0019 awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.