The Institute for American Police Reform: Evaluation of Community Engagement and Education Work

Baltimore police playing basketball with community members

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Police Department

Support for this work was provided by the AIR Equity Initiative

Black and Latino individuals are arrested, detained, convicted, and incarcerated at significantly higher rates than their White and Asian counterparts for similar crimes. And within consistent police encounters, Black and Latino people are more likely to experience force.

The Institute for American Police Reform

The Institute for American Police Reform (IAPR) offers a promising framework for spawning contextually competent community-engaged policing reform focused on compassion; mindfulness of history; and sensitivity to the racial, ethnic, identity, and cultural diversities of communities. To address decades of inequitable policing and justice practices nationwide, IAPR proposes a transformational redevelopment of policing services through five interdependent pillars: (1) Law and Policy, (2) Accountability, (3) Standards and Training, (4) Leadership Development, and (5) Community Engagement and Education.

Evaluation of Community Engagement and Education Work

AIR has partnered with IAPR, a project-specific Community Participation Council, and other policing experts in an effort to determine the impact of IAPR’s activities under the Community Engagement and Education pillar. This partnership provides a unique opportunity to support greater police-community engagement with an eye towards improved racial equity. 

The primary questions we address in our evaluation are as follows:

  • Do IAPR’s activities improve the racial equity of policing practices?
  • Do IAPR activities improve police accountability, cooperation between communities and police, and community experiences with and perceptions about police?
    • If so, how does the extent of these changes vary across different racial and ethnic groups?

The project integrates technical assistance and evaluation to (a) codify IAPR’s community engagement and education goals and infrastructure and produce a theory of change; (b) provide technical assistance to bolster IAPR’s capacity to measure the alignment of its services/deliverables with its developed theory of change; and (c) develop and conduct a mixed-methods research design to evaluate activities and outcomes in IAPR’s theory of change.

Throughout the evaluation, we will collaborate with IAPR and Community Participation Council members around key decisionmaking and dissemination. The project team brings together diverse expertise across justice, community thriving, implicit bias in policing, and workforce development, as well as diverse methodologists to implement this three-phase design.  

Candace Hester
Principal Researcher
Anne Diffenderffer
Senior Researcher