The Justice Department is creating a comprehensive online portal and resource center aimed at improving community policing by providing law enforcement agencies and the public access to federal reports, training, academic research and experts, reports the Washington Post. Officials described the “National Law Enforcement Knowledge Lab” as an attempt to create a one-stop shop of information and best practices that are scattered across federal agencies and outside organizations.
The goal is to create a road map for police departments seeking to implement reforms at a time when concern about violent crime is causing some jurisdictions to rethink efforts to overhaul policing.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta is announcing the initiative during a kickoff event in Los Angeles, where dozens of police officials, community leaders and civil rights advocates have gathered for two days of workshops to develop ideas.
DOJ is collaborating with the National Policing Institute, a nonprofit policy organization, and 21st Century Policing Solutions, a consultant, to build the portal, which will be overseen by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
At a time of rising gun violence and homicides, and nearly two years after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were met with nationwide calls to reimagine law enforcement, federal officials want to help communities combat crime by building trust between police and residents.
Gupta described the Knowledge Lab as a chance “to build a highly visible and trusted national resource for law enforcement agencies, communities and researchers to improve public safety through effective crime-fighting strategies, robust constitutional policing and stronger community relationships.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has opened pattern or practice investigations into police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville, Phoenix and Mount Vernon, N.Y., although such probes are costly and time-consuming.
The lab will be available at no cost. It is DOJ's latest effort to improve voluntary collaboration with the nation’s 18,000 state, municipal and tribal law enforcement agencies. Justice officials last month launched the Collaborative Reform Initiative, which offers law enforcement agencies technical assistance from federal experts.