Adopting a community policing model is a necessary approach to better protect and serve communities at risk for violent radicalization, according to a new START study. The independent research study -- a process evaluation of Los Angeles Police Department’s countering violent extremism tailored community policing (CVETCP) strategy – concluded that the community policing approach helped humanize officers and shifted attitudes of immigrant and refugee communities who had initially feared and turned away from police.
The study was conducted by Stevan Weine, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Ahmed Younis, adjunct assistant professor at Chapman University; and Chloe Polutnik, research coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The process evaluation of LAPD's work identified five community policing practices:
- Engage. Community outreach officers meet and establish one-on-one relationships with community leaders to open communication channels. They also build partnerships with community-based organizations, including faith-based and interfaith organizations.
- Build Trust. Community outreach officers work to establish honest and open dialogue on sensitive issues with community leaders and members, such as concerning terrorism, hate crimes, and discrimination. They acknowledge and promote mutual understanding of communities’ historical traumas and their present needs and strengths. The officers aim to be as transparent as possible regarding crime fighting and police conduct.
- Educate. Community outreach officers teach communities about crime (including hate crimes), police work, and community resources to combat criminal activity. This includes building knowledge and awareness in communities about violent extremism and how to prevent it.
- Problem Solve. Community outreach officers help communities and individuals respond to their current problems. This includes helping communities respond appropriately to Islamophobia, discrimination, and hate speech and crimes. They also help community members access available resources to address social, legal, and mental and physical health concerns. They provide communities with knowledge and skills to assess the threat level of individuals and educate them on how to respond.
- Mobilize. Community outreach officers promote the civic engagement of community members, including promoting women and youth advocacy on civic and public safety issues. They assist immigrants and refugees in promoting their integration and addressing their security concerns. They also provide community-based organizations with consultation, materials, information, and support regarding how their organization can contribute to building resilience to violent extremism.
The researchers note that these should be considered emerging practices given that CVETCP is a new practice and is currently based on evidence which is not research-based.
In the report, the researchers also detail a logic model built upon the LAPD program that lays a foundation for additional work and research, including incorporating public health models of prevention and building resilience. The researchers also identified contextual issues that need to inform the development and implementation of CVETCP programs, as well as potential obstacles.