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A New Way of Policing

For ideas on how cities might rebuild trust in the police and shift resources to address the root causes of public safety concerns, look no further than a trial project unfolding on Chicago’s West Side.

The Neighborhood Policing and Community Engagement Initiative, or NPI, is a new way of policing that centers community members as partners in co-producing public safety, writes Joyce’s Nina Vinik in an op-ed column in Crain’s Forum.

Vinik, director of Joyce’s gun violence prevention and justice reform program, argues that NPI offers a promising path forward as the killing of George Floyd and demands for racial justice force us to think differently about how we police, and who gets to decide.

NPI is an intensive neighborhood-based policing philosophy that emphasizes relationship-building and focuses on the community’s own top priorities. It shifts the paradigm on often-adversarial, top-down policing approaches, and improves on community policing models Chicago has tried before.

Key elements: Officers remain in specific areas within their districts, truly getting to know residents. Community volunteers help orient new officers. District commanders can shift resources to non-enforcement methods that better address systemic issues or social service failures.

The Policing Project at the New York University School of Law provides technical support for NPI, and financial support comes from The Joyce Foundation and other philanthropies. One of Joyce’s key initiatives is promoting safe and just communities, including greater police-community trust, through support for research, education, advocacy and engagement.

In her column, Vinik encourages Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police commanders to focus on NPI and move forward aggressively in expanding it beyond just two West Side districts.

The Joyce Foundation is a sponsor of Crain’s Forum, a monthly exploration of the most difficult issues facing Chicago and its region.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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