Improving Police-Community Relations

Police-community relations in the United States are troubled, particularly in Black communities where there is a long and fraught history. Current approaches to bridging the divide, such as bias training, do not focus enough on building relationships between police and the communities they are meant to serve. Jennifer Eberhardt, professor of psychology, is leading a collaboration between SPARQ and the San Francisco Police Department to design and test a novel intervention program to build relationships, address these complex dynamics and create solutions. The program will engage police and community members’ individual and collective identities, leveraging novel, experiential techniques to build respect, empathy, trust and shared understanding. Importantly, police and community members will have the opportunity to collaborate as change agents and co-create solutions with the potential to make a lasting impact. “By deepening relationships between police and communities, norms and understandings of police officers’ roles can shift, paving the way for the culture of an agency, and potentially of an entire industry, to change,” Eberhardt said.


Principal Investigators: Jennifer Eberhardt, Psychology; Hazel Rose Markus, Psychology; Jeremy Bailenson, Communication; Dan Jurafsky, Linguistics and Computer Science

Research Team: Camilla Griffiths, Psychology; MarYam Hamedani, Managing Director and Senior Research Scientist; Kristyn Jones, SPARQ Research Fellow; Rebecca Hetey, Associate Director of Criminal Justice Partnerships and Research Scientist; Maggie Perry, Psychology

Partner: San Francisco Police Department