21st Century Policing Task Force Report: The First Five Years

The National Police Foundation (NPF) partnered with the Joyce Foundation and 21CP Solutions to examine the reach and impact of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report in the law enforcement field in the five years following the publication’s release. NPF used quantifiable measures to demonstrate diffusion of report concepts along with qualitative data on stakeholder perceptions.

Project Overview

In December 2014, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (hereafter “the 21CP Task Force”) was established in the aftermath of police uses of force in Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, OH, and New York City, and related First Amendment assemblies and protests across the United States. The 21CP Task Force focused policing practices that promote effective crime reduction strategies and build public trust.

In May 2015, the 21CP Task Force delivered a final report (hereafter “the 21CP Task Force Report”) with 156 recommendations and action items to law enforcement agencies and the federal government. These were organized within six pillars—building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer wellness and safety. NPF will assess the 21CPTask Force Report’s reach and impact within the law enforcement field in the five years following the publication release. This project, funded by the Joyce Foundation, aim to:

  • Explore the extent to which the principles and strategies that underlie the 21CPTR have influenced changes in policing or have otherwise been absorbed into the field;
  • Examine catalysts and inhibitors to implementation of these principles and strategies; and,
  • Provide examples of agencies that have or have not implemented these principles and how they have done so, or, if they have not, the barriers.

Five years later, law enforcement agencies, communities, and other stakeholders made strides to adopt concepts underlying the 21CP Task Force Report. However, while this project was well underway, another high-profile police incident, this time in Minneapolis, sparked global protests. Nevertheless, these events starkly underscored critical, ongoing deficits in trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve. Significant work still needs to be done to improve community-police relations. This 21CP Task Force Report diffusion assessment aims to identify gaps, barriers, and opportunities for adoption. With that, agencies and communities have the data and evidence for continuing to build on its recommendations in the next five years.

Methodology

NPF is conducting a literature review, policy evaluation, and environmental scan related to the 21CP Task Force Report recommendations. To the extent possible, NPF will use quantifiable measures to demonstrate the diffusion of concepts. The NPF team will also conduct exploratory inquiries and structured individual or group interviews with executives, agency representatives, and key stakeholders to understand diverse perspectives on implementation. Additionally, NPF will administer a survey that probes high-level absorption and use of the 21CP Task Force Report principles and concepts, which will provide additional qualitative data on stakeholder perceptions. To provide specifics around 21CP Task Force-based work conducted in cities and counties around the country, NPF, with input from the Joyce Foundation, will develop several “case studies” to provide detailed information on the advancements some agencies have made with or without the assistance of the 21CP Task Force recommendations. NPF will compile and analyze the data collected through prior tasks to develop a final report.

Results

Generally, the assessment found the following:

  • The Report offered a common framework to discuss policing and reform.
  • Interest in the Report has remained stable over time, peaking following high-profile events of police misconduct.
  • Trust & Legitimacy were still considered the highest priority areas for most stakeholders.

Half a decade after the Report’s release, law enforcement agencies, communities, and stakeholders have made strides in adopting and implementing concepts found in the Report. However, during the time that this project was underway, the murder of George Floyd sparked global protests, demands for reforms in policing, and an end to racism and racial disparities within American systems in general.  More work is needed to explore how on-going police reform is perceived by and impacting communities across the United States, particularly communities of color. It is also important to better understand if and how policing is being re-imagined across the nation, as well as the impact of those changes. It is clear that while significant work is still necessary to advance policing and to improve trust and legitimacy in communities, a measured, evidence-based and data informed approach will best service all communities.

Project Publications

More Information

Project Status: Completed

Project Period:  April 2020 - November 2021

Location(s): National

Research Design: Non-experimental, Review of research

Research Method(s): Case study, Focus groups, Interviews, Surveys, Literature review