It Began at an Innovative Conference

In 2004, Stanford University Professor Jennifer L. Eberhardt masterminded a landmark gathering of law enforcement practitioners and social science researchers—Stanford University’s Policing and Racial Bias Conference—to foster collaborative relationships between law enforcement and researchers. The conference was an overwhelming success with both groups.

The second conference, held in 2007, sparked a pivotal, collaborative relationship between Division Chief Tracie L. Keesee and Professor Phillip Atiba Goff. This dynamic partnership would ultimately culminate in the creation of Center for Policing Equity (CPE), formerly the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity.

Initial Successes at the Denver Police Department

The initial partnership permitted important research questions and urgent law enforcement questions—as identified by the Denver Police Department’s Division Chief Keesee and Chief Gerald R. Whitman—to be tackled simultaneously.

Chief Whitman’s concerns fell into three categories that are central to the healthy functioning of any police department: training, recruitment, and retention. He sought answers to the critical question of how to attract and maintain a representative, unbiased police force that fulfilled its duties with excellence.

Dr. Goff’s research team has risen to this challenge, bringing a research background in race relations and discrimination, and wide-ranging knowledge of research methodology to bear. He has synthesized a new research model integrating experimental research, survey research, and individual personnel files. As part of this initiative, Dr. Goff has instituted pre- and post-testing at the Denver Police Academy to assess changes in attitudes or behaviors in the new recruits. Every step of the way, Dr. Goff’s work was made possible by the unending support and unprecedented access provided by Chief Whitman and the Denver Police Department.

As a result of Dr. Goff’s important findings, a variety of Denver Police Department policy changes have occurred. These include updates for command staff, mentoring programs for female officers, changes in disciplinary policies to increase transparency and accountability, and procedural changes to improve recruitment and retention. Inspired by these successes, Dr. Goff and Division Chief Keesee set their sights higher with the goal of replicating the Denver Police Department successes at other police departments across North America.

Research and Policing Collaboration Expands Beyond Denver

Following in the steps of Dr. Eberhardt’s Policing Racial Bias initiative, Dr. Goff and Division Chief Keesee traveled to the Major Cities Chiefs Conference in San Diego, in November 2008. At the conference, they invited interested departments to participate in this new initiative aimed at promoting researcher and law enforcement collaborations with the goal of tackling issues at the heart of both groups’ interests. Their enthusiasm for this new paradigm was contagious. Chiefs of police and sheriff’s departments in Chicago, Edmonton, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles County, Milwaukee, Nashville, Newark, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto, and Virginia Beach were eager to become part of this new wave of research and policing.

Thus, in 2008, the CPE was founded. At the core of CPE’s mission, as well as those departments associated with it, is a deep concern for equity and inclusiveness within the police department itself and between the police department and the community it serves.

The Center's Important Work Continues Today

Today, the commitment of equity and inclusiveness within the police department itself and throughout the service community remains strong. Center for Policing Equity’s work continues to simultaneously aid police departments to realize their own equity goals as well as advance the scientific understanding of issues of equity within organizations and policing.

Center for Policing Equity serves as a matchmaker, pairing police departments with world-class researchers. Though many Center for Policing Equity researchers specialize in issues surrounding race and gender, a wide variety of research interests are represented and can be harnessed to serve the specific equity issues any given department is combating.

As Center for Policing Equity grows and partners with law enforcement agencies across North America, we hope that you will join us in this groundbreaking effort to chart a new course for equity in law enforcement.

Contact us today to learn about our collaborative process and research initiatives.