The lack of adequate services received by victims in marginalized communities, especially communities of color, is one of many adverse effects caused by deeply-rooted discrimination in our criminal justice system. Additionally, many communities of color do not feel comfortable accessing services when they experience a crime. This is due in part to historical mistrust and a poor relationship with law enforcement. In order to address underreporting, improve service provision and create a healing environment for victims of crime from every background, NCVC has launched a new initiative called the Building Bridges Project to rectify disparities in treatment and services for crime victims, particularly those in communities of color.
Building Bridges (BBP) is a partnership between four branches of the Los Angeles NAACP, community organizations and local law enforcement. BBP promotes reconciliation through a productive and healing dialogue about what law enforcement should know in order to achieve effective encounters with victims of crime from marginalized communities. This project, through its community conversations and recommendations for law enforcement, will shape the future of victim services in L.A.
But why now? Why Los Angeles?
Developing this relationship is needed nationwide, but in Los Angeles especially. In L.A, black residents, who represent less than 10 percent of the city’s population, constitute a third of L.A.P.D arrests. A recent study that the Urban institute in collaboration with Microsoft and local universities found that residents in neighborhoods that experience a high degree of police activity “have a higher threshold for when they call 911.” They may also not “call because of a lack of trust in police.” Racial disparities in policing in Los Angeles are well documented. A 2020 report published by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Office of the Inspector General found “racial disproportions in stops for every type of violation.”
This lack of trust is felt/deeply embedded nationwide. An August 2020 nationwide survey found that only 19% of Black adults say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police. Another survey conducted in the same time frame found that “fewer than one in five Black Americans feel very confident that the police in their area would treat them with courtesy and respect.” Additionally, “four in 10 Black Americans who interact with police walk away with a negative assessment of their interactions overall.”
Relationships and conceptions of police begin in childhood. However, black male-identifying youth nationwide “are policed like no other demographic.” This issue is increasing in urgency. A study that analyzed thirty years of data found that “Black youth were 2.1 times more likely to be arrested than their white peers in 1995 and 2.5 times more likely in 2015.”
These statistics demonstrate that constructive, healing conversations between communities of color and law enforcement are necessary to improve community trust in law enforcement and better serve victims of crime.
A smaller scale pilot program in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles conducted by UCLA found that “crime declines and trust increases when officers work alongside residents to build relationships.” An essential component of this project is the centering of community voices, actualized through a survey dispersed throughout the community and community conversations.
HOW YOU CAN BE INVOLVED
To support this grassroots campaign, our founder has generously pledged to match funds. To support a more just future and double your impact:
We are also seeking community partners in the Los Angeles area to join the Building Bridges Project. Know an organization that would be a good fit? Click the button below:
Join us Thursday, April 22 at 12 p.m. EST for a lunch and learn more about the Building Bridges Project! Attendees will learn about the project’s Los Angeles pilot program, as well as our partnership with The NAACP. This webinar will discuss the necessity of this project, it’s centering of community voices, and how you can get involved.