Policing and Public Health

Policing and Public Health

The mission of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is to advance the policing profession through advocacy, research, outreach, and education to provide for safer communities worldwide. In the modern era of policing, cross-disciplinary and collaborative partnerships, evidence-based policies and practices, and meaningful community engagement are all critical to achieving this mission. Both the policing and public health fields aim to address threats to the safety and security of communities. These threats are driven by complex and interwoven societal problems. Police and public health practitioners are responding to many of the same issues: violence, mental illness, homelessness, and substance use disorders and overdoses from two traditionally distinct perspectives with different languages, from the policing terms of offending, victim, and culpability to the public health terms of injury, risk and protective factors, and epidemiology.

The IACP has developed and launched numerous training programs, tools, and resources to help police and their multidisciplinary partners work within communities to address critical public health-related challenges such as violent crime, traffic and road safety, behavioral health and substance use disorders, gender-based violence, human trafficking, officer safety and wellness, vulnerable populations, and children exposed to violence. Explore these IACP resources below. 

COVID-19 and Other Communicable Diseases

Police and the communities they serve both need to be safe in their jobs and daily lives. The IACP developed a variety of resources designed to guide police agencies in remaining safe and effective in their daily operations from pathogenic and communicable diseases. 

For IACP resources and information on COVID-19, please visit Law Enforcement Information on COVID-19.  

IACP Policies 

IACP & the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The IACP serves as a collaborating organization for the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Bloomberg Fellows Program is a groundbreaking initiative to provide world-class public health training to individuals engaged with organizations tackling critical challenges facing the United States. The IACP has a number of Bloomberg Fellows pursuing Master of Public Health (MPH), the most well-known and respected public health degree in the world, focusing on the critical challenges of violence and addiction/overdose.  

Learn more about the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg American Health Initiative by visiting the Bloomberg Initiative.  

Law Enforcement and the Communities they Serve: Collective Healing in the Wake of Harm

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) supported by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), U. S. Department of Justice, launched a historic initiative to address the needs of those directly impacted by community-police tensions or harm. This initiative was designed to help five selected communities to develop both a preventative and a reparative focus to reduce tensions, maximize communication, ensure that victims receive a just and meaningful victim centered response, address officer health and wellbeing, and promote problem-solving between law enforcement and the communities they serve. 

There is a forthcoming publication launching in Spring 2021 called Pathways toward Collective Healing. 

Learn more by visiting Law Enforcement and the Communities they Serve: Supporting Collective Healing in the Wake of Harm.  

Violent Crime

Public safety depends on law enforcement effectively addressing the crime and violence that occurs in homes, neighborhoods, and communities. The IACP has a long history of promoting best practices and innovations in investigation of crimes. Learn more about the IACP’s crime and violence efforts by visiting the Crime & Violence topic page

IACP Resolutions 

IACP Initiatives 

Police Chief Articles 

Gun Violence

While the United States leads developed countries in gun deaths, gun violence knows no borders. Law enforcement leaders understand and embrace their leadership role in combating gun violence but using public safety strategies alone will not win the fight against gun violence. The IACP supports a multidisciplinary effort to consider and confront all aspects of gun violence, and to use a science-based approach to gun violence that includes using evidence to improve health, prevent injury, and combat violence. 

For IACP resources and information on Gun and Gang Violence Reduction, visit Gun and Gang Violence Reduction Initatives.  

Gender-Based Violence

Law enforcement professionals have the ability to support victims, hold offenders accountable, and prevent future acts of violence. In order to be successful, law enforcement agencies must articulate their priorities concerning gender-based violence and ensure that this message, as well as officer expectations, are outlined for all members. 

For IACP resources and information on gender-based violence, please visit Police Response to Violence Against Women  

IACP Resolutions 

Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Trauma

Police officers are frequently the first responders to situations that pose powerful threats to the safety and well-being of children and families. Police are in an ideal position to both identify and initiate the process of recovery for children and families traumatized by violence. The IACP and the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine and supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice, have launched training, tools, and resources to increase the capacity of law enforcement to identify and respond to children exposed to violence and childhood trauma.  

Learn more by visiting Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Trauma.  

Vulnerable Populations

Police agencies are dedicated to protecting their communities from crime and violence, especially those who are vulnerable. The IACP is committed to supporting police agencies’ efforts to protect these populations through policy recommendations, trainings, and guides.  

IACP Policies 

IACP Resources 

IACP Videos and Webinars 

IACP Trainings (In-Person) 

Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

For law enforcement officers, responding to situations involving individuals with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities in a safe, effective manner can often present a significant challenge. The IACP has a number of initiatives to enhance police engagement with, and response to, individuals in mental health crisis or individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

Learn more about IACP’s Mental Health and I/DD work by visiting:  

IACP Policies 

Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Response

Law enforcement’s growing understanding of the science of addiction—and the importance of treatment—helps police identify individuals with substance use disorders and respond more effectively when encountering drug-impaired individuals. Additionally, law enforcement’s developing partnerships with a diverse array of stakeholders foster more effective collaboration on science-based, public health–focused approaches to substance use disorders. Utilizing these approaches, law enforcement can help successfully address drug addiction and divert those offenders who commit crimes because of their addiction to treatment, ultimately leading them to live useful, productive lives.  

Explore the collection of IACP resources on the opioid overdose epidemic by visiting Law Enforcement Opioid Resources.  

IACP Resolutions 

IACP Resources  

IACP Videos and Webinars 

Traffic and Road Safety

Every year, road traffic crashes kill 1.35 million people worldwide and injure more than 20 million. Many of these crashes are caused by driver-related factors, including speeding, distracted driving, and impairments (such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), and many of these crashes are preventable.  

Learn more about the IACP’s Traffic Safety efforts by visiting Traffic Safety Initiative and IACP’s Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) Initiative.  

Officer Safety and Wellness

Support for officer safety and wellness is vital to the field and community, as well as the wellbeing of law enforcement colleagues, agencies, and families.  

Explore the collection of IACP resources that support the safety, health, and wellness of every officer by visiting Officer Safety and Wellness.  

IACP Resolutions 

Vicarious Trauma

There is growing awareness that individuals responsible for responding to and addressing the needs of victims of crime in various professional capacities may experience vicarious trauma due to their work-related trauma exposure. This can result from both daily, chronic exposure to victims of crime and through response to mass violence incidents that capture wider attention. 

Learn more about IACP’s vicarious trauma efforts by visiting  Vicarious Trauma Response Initiative.  

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