DOJ Enlists Research Team To Study Racial Bias In Policing In 5 Cities


Broadening its push to improve police relations with minorities, the U.S. Justice Department has enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement in five cities and recommend strategies to address the problem nationally, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Associated Press. The police shooting last month of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., underscored the need for the long-planned initiative, Holder said. He said the three-year project could be a “silver lining” if it helps ease racial tensions and “pockets of distrust that show up between law enforcement and the communities that they serve.”

The five cities have not been selected, but the researchers involved in the project say they’re bringing a holistic approach that involves training police officers on issues of racial bias, data analysis and interviews with community members. They expect to review police behavior in the cities with the hope of building community trust and creating an evidence-based model that could be applied more broadly. In April, DOJ said it was soliciting bids for a $4.75 million racial bias project that would collect data on stops, searches, arrests and case outcomes. The department is providing grants to a team of researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Yale University, UCLA and the Urban Institute. David Kennedy, a team member and director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay, called the project a “historic and tremendously exciting enterprise.”

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