8 Practices for Improving Police-Community Relations

Dec 4, 2015 | ARTICLE

Every week there is a national news story alleging police abuse of force and the resulting reaction from the affected community. At this time when American policing faces a crisis of community confidence, a good working relationship between the police chief and city manager is crucial to the proper functioning of the local police department. 

In August, the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police hosted their first joint-training program for local government managers and their chiefs of police. The seven manager-chief teams identified eight practices to improve police-community relations:  

  1. Lasting collaborative relationships between local police and the public are essential. Problem-solving partnerships between the police chief and city manager are critical to success.
  2. Clear, comprehensive policies addressing scenarios such as use of force, mass demonstrations, consent before searches, gender identification, performance measures, and collection of data need to be in place and must be reflective of the communities served.
  3. It’s important to be open to new technology, but we have to think through policies of use with transparency, accountability, and privacy in mind.
  4. Reinforce community policing with emphasis on protection, procedural justice, and dignity for all. Foster cooperation, community engagement, and positive non-enforcement activities. 
  5. Avoid tactics that stigmatize youth, while supporting youth leadership and life skills training, and provide incentives for officers to involve themselves as role models for youth.
  6. Avoid practices that lead to disparate impacts on segments of the community. Prohibit racial profiling, sexual harassment or misconduct, and quotas or other incentives for arrests, citations, or tickets generating revenue.
  7. Emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest, interagency collaboration, shared services, and regional training.
  8. Embrace training for recognizing and avoiding implicit bias, guardian/protector versus warrior mindset, dealing with those with mental disabilities, and officer safety and wellness.


The goal of the day-and-a-half training was to strengthen the crucial relationship between the manager and chief leading to better policing for local communities. Attendees, representing a cross section of the professions, included six teams from south Florida and a seventh from Georgia. They serve cities big and small, rich and poor, urban and rural. The issues they face are remarkably similar despite these differences.

The attendees found particular value in the exercise where the chief and city manager developed a short range action plan together and honestly assessed where things stood with their police departments.

Because of the positive response to the pilot program, CPSM has scheduled five more programs around the country. Each program will be limited to 20 city manager-police chief pairs.


February 11 & 12                                Dallas area

March 10 & 11                                    Oakland area

April 14 & 15                                       Chicago area

May 12 & 13                                        Boston area

June 9 & 10                                         Seattle area


For more information, or to be notified of future sessions, send an e-mail with contact information to: 21stCenturyPolicing@CPSM.US

The Center for Public Safety Management is the exclusive provider of public safety services for ICMA.


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