This semester the Consortium will build upon the Spring 2022 fellowship cohort’s research and recommendations. Toward that end, the fellowship will pursue multiple approaches to advance local policing reform efforts based upon jurisdictional needs. Fellow(s) and faculty advisors will evaluate the data and climate for their assignments and decide upon a direction following review of the contents contained in this message.
Work this semester will focus on partnership within your communities. Re-imagining public safety can’t be done alone or in silos. Success is contingent on understanding what is currently being done, to determine if and how this work may evolve. Forming community partnerships is a key component of a community-oriented approach to policing. For these reasons, the Consortium recommends faculty advisors and students to either identify a local police agency OR a local civil rights/legal aid organization to engage in support of their ongoing work. While this is the preferred path for the coming academic year, if the fellowship at your schools is not structured to participate in this type of activity, or faculty are not able or comfortable in supervising work of this nature, students can undertake a variety of relevant research themes identified on page 6 with the permission of the Director. Alternatively, they may be assigned to work with another faculty member in a jurisdiction where they may have more direct contact with policing or civil rights organizations.
In order to make an informed decision, please review the information gathered by the fellows from Spring 2022. For civic leaders and legal aid organizations, relevant names and points of contact are available here with relevant documents available here. For local police departments, relevant names and points of contact are available here with relevant documents available here. A school may also decide to partner with highway patrol, sheriff’s department, state or tribal police. Data has also been collected from each and is available on request.
First, each school must decide whether to engage directly with their local/state policing agency (to help with that decision, some key questions have been included on page 4) OR with a local civil rights/legal aid organization. Fellows should review the material compiled by the fellow before them and present a recommendation to their faculty advisor on which organization or police department they believe would be most relevant to the Consortium, of greatest value to reimagining local community safety efforts, and speak to the interests and expertise of both the student and their supervisor. Upon presentation, faculty advisors can then determine whether to proceed with outreach or evaluate the benefit of engagement with another organization or department (please notify me of your decision before proceeding to allow for appropriate activity tracking). Faculty have the final word in this decision. If outreach to a police department is sought, it is recommended that they discuss this with their Deans and any other departments that are currently working with the identified police department or on issues related to policing.
If a school decides to engage with either their local or state police agency, sheriff’s department, or highway patrol (and has not done so previously), please reach out to the Consortium Director for a template letter that can be tailored in a way that reflects what your school (and/or a legal research fellow) might be able to offer.
If a school is ALREADY working with a police department, a new letter should not be sent unless the faculty advisor sees merit in formalizing the relationship between school and department. If a school is already working with a police department they should continue to do so and not wait to align with the Consortium’s schedule. We recognize that all 60 Consortium member schools are at different points in this work and we want to amplify efforts wherever progress is being made.
A reply from the identified policing department may take time and it is important not to rush this process. Thus, students (not already engaged with their local department) may not have a chance to interact with law enforcement immediately, and this should inform the selection of student fellows for Spring 2023. Therefore, once all participating schools have decided on how to proceed, fellows for the fall semester will be working on a research project which further strengthens our understanding of the policing context in each community. The Spring fellowship will begin in mid-January 2023. Fellows from Fall 2022 may retain their fellowship for Spring 2023 if approved by their faculty advisor.
Local chapters of the ACLU and NAACP are types of legal aid organizations that might be considered, but there are many more. Students, please ensure that the group identified is actively working on policing issues either in your community or at the national level. Note that students will NOT be providing legal advice in any work undertaken with an external agency. They may support research or summarize recent legal decisions. Any work undertaken with an external organization will be reported by the student back to the fellowship, so nothing of a confidential manner should be included in the work of a fellow.
An email notifying me of your school’s decision regarding engagement with either a civil rights group or a police department should be sent by October 3, 2022 .
The fellowship will start on Monday, September 19 and run through Monday, November 21. Classes will be held virtually on Mondays from 5:00-6:30 pm ET. Classes will be a combination of external speakers to discuss pressing issues and promising areas related to policing, as well as seminars for students to discuss their individual engagement and partnerships. All students must complete a paper summarizing their outreach and engagement and identifying possible areas for continued engagement. An informational webinar will be scheduled the week of September 5 for faculty to support their oversight of students. I’m looking forward to the fall term and better understanding how each school intends to proceed. Questions and concerns are always well received and can be sent to email@example.com.