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Identifying Policy Solutions to Law Enforcement Reform

Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, and Jennifer Kolker, MPH, recently received funding from Drexel's Rapid Response Research & Development Fund for Racial Equity Projects for a new policy surveillance project entitled, Multi-City Policy Surveillance to identify Policy Solutions to Law Enforcement Reform. The Policy and Community Engagement Core of the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative (UHC) has conducted policy surveillance since early 2017 to identify best practices in cities around the U.S. The goal is to create a system to monitor, document, and share local urban policy actions that can positively impact population health. The UHC will hire a master’s student to lead this project, conducting policy surveillance in seven cities in the U.S. to identify policies enacted in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the shooting of Jacob Blake, and countless other Black individuals by law enforcement.

Many cities are shifting towards addressing calls for policing and criminal justice reforms. This new project will work to identify and monitor policies that emerge from these calls for reform, focusing on policy changes proposed after May 2020. Policy surveillance can be used as a tool to identify best practices that can be shared among and replicated between cities. The types of policies expected to possibly change include: reallocation of police department funding to other programs, demilitarization of police forces, policies ensuring transparency and accountability of police departments and staff, policing in schools, diversity hiring practices for all lines of work, and the use of technology, such as body cameras or facial recognition software, in policing.

The policy surveillance methods are not limited to reviewing legislation - Twitter will be used to keep up to date for receiving instant news updates from city legislators, school districts, and other sources, and monitoring how the public feels about such statements. This also allows the project to assess how frequently equity topics such as economic development, education, housing, and the COVID-19 context are informing policymaking.

The hope is that by creating an inventory of cross-city comparisons of anti-racism policies and policing reforms, the project can inform the efforts of advocates to address police brutality and racial profiling in their cities.