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Bridging The Gap: Virtual Roundtable Discussions on Racial Injustice and Police Community Relations

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Prepared for the City of Antioch, California

In May 2020, the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer shocked the nation. Recorded footage brought the image of his death to millions of people, and they responded as never before. As the summer unfolded, protests were organized in communities all across the nation, with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, young and old alike, marching together asking for
police reform and sharing concerns over police brutality and systemic racism.

In response, police reform proposals were introduced at the federal and state levels, with more than 30 states considering legislative changes on police practices and accountability. At the local level, government and police officials began proposing changes to police policy and practice, enacting bans on chokeholds, and promoting de-escalation training.

In the City of Antioch, hundreds of concerned community members voiced their opinions on race relations and policing reform during three City Council meetings in June 2020. The issues they raised were wide ranging, including systemic racism, body-worn cameras, and police recruitment, training, and accountability. In response, the Antioch City Council decided to hold a series of roundtable
discussions called Bridging the Gap to hear the perspectives of additional community members and learn more about the kinds of changes in policing the community desired. The City wanted to better understand the community’s perspectives on racial injustice and police-community relations and to identify ways to address them. CNA, an independent national research and analysis firm, was hired
to organize and facilitate these roundtable discussions.

Major incidents involving police can and have happened all around the country. As we were writing this report, we learned that they can happen in Antioch, too. During our initial conversations to understand the goals of the Bridging the Gap sessions, we often heard that Antioch was holding community dialogues because of things that happened in other places. Recently, an interaction between a young man and Antioch police officers ended in the death of the young man. Although it may be too soon to determine the circumstances that lead to his death, the timing of this incident should serve as a cautionary tale for other departments. The policing issues in Antioch are national, and the national issues matter in Antioch.

Process

CNA, through its Center for Justice Research and Innovation, began planning the roundtable discussions in November 2020. As a nationally recognized leader in justice systems research, policecommunity relations, and police reform efforts, CNA brought significant technical skills and a deep understanding of community policing, the intersection of race and policing, and evidence-based policing to the project. For over a decade, CNA has worked with more than 400 police departments to assess their operations, recommend changes based on best practices, and provide the technical assistance needed to implement change.

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Details

  • Pages: 60
  • Document Number: IIM-2021-U-030778
  • Publication Date: 9/30/2021
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