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Law Enforcement and the Communities they Serve: Collective Healing in the Wake of Harm


In the aftermath of a high-profile incident, first responders, victim service providers, law enforcement officers, and investigators face additional challenges and often lack the capacity to provide a comprehensive, victim-centered, and trauma-informed response to those harmed. Police can help initiate recovery after a traumatic event, but tensions between police and the communities they serve can create barriers to healing.

Communities that build trust and transparency, and agencies that train officers to provide a trauma-informed response to victims and help officers cope with vicarious trauma, are better able to constructively respond to the trauma of a high-profile incident and prevent others.

Through the OVC-funded Law Enforcement and the Communities they Serve: Supporting Collective Healing in the Wake of Harm initiative, launched in 2016, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) sought to help law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve address the needs of those affected by acts of violence and other divisive events that may erode trust between the community and law enforcement.

Through this project, the IACP worked with five demonstration sites—Baton Rouge, Houston, Minneapolis, Oakland, and Rapid City—and a cadre of national subject matter experts to address critical elements of policy, protocol, and culture to enhance a sites capacity to provide trauma-informed, collaborative policing services and responses.

In 2021, the IACP released Pathways Toward Collective Healing: Law Enforcement and the Communities they Serve: Collective Healing in the Wake of Harm, a report that provides an overview of implementation practices, demonstration site profiles, and examples of the tools developed and implemented across the sites.

Read this report to learn how five law enforcement agencies worked together with their community partners to—

  • explore ways to improve public safety,
  • build trust and legitimacy, and
  • provide victim assistance to those most at risk.
Date Created: May 4, 2021