The United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) was founded in 1994 under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
In 1997, the COPS Office funded the development of a network of regional training and technical assistance centers referred to as the Regional Community Policing Institutes. The Illinois Regional Institute for Community Policing was one such institute, and began its work as a partnership between the University of Illinois Springfield, the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority and the Illinois State Police. The purpose of this network was to provide community policing related training to law enforcement professionals and the communities they served.
In 2009, the Regional Institute for Community Policing became the Center for Public Safety and Justice due to its increasing collaborations among the nation’s public safety agencies, as well as, other public and private organizations who advance the health and welfare of the community as a whole.
In September 2019, CPSJ officially associated with the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies and changed the name to the Project for Public Safety and Justice (PPSJ). Throughout the metamorphous of organizational names the work and the national reputation has remained constant.
National Partnerships and Initiatives –
Because PPSJ continues to find solutions to community problems through partnerships and innovative problem solving strategies, it has expanded over the years to include such agencies as the National Institute of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and, the Office on Violence Against Women.
Over the last twenty-four years we have facilitated trainings in 48 states and 2 U.S. territories, reaching more than 12,000 law enforcement professionals, other first responders and community members. Some of our more significant trainings include:
- Diversity & Inclusion for Law Enforcement: Enhancing Cultural Responsiveness
- Sexual Assault Investigations for Law Enforcement: A Trauma-Informed Approach
- Procedural Justice for Law Enforcement: Four-Part Training Series
- Coffee with a Cop
- Household Pets and Service Animals in Disaster
- Law Enforcement and Missing Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease
- National Law Enforcement Leadership Forums
- Cybersecurity and Cyber Incident Awareness
Curricula are vetted by subject matter and curriculum design experts to ensure high standards are adhered to. Trainings are instructed by highly qualified two-person teams, bringing the perspective of law enforcement and an allied profession to the classroom.
It always is the desire, after grant funding ends that a successful initiative will continue because of its effectiveness usually being offered on a for-fee-basis.
One of our newest partners is the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC). This initiative is funded by the COPS Office through the International Association of Chiefs of Police. PPSJ’s Diversity & Inclusion for Law Enforcement: Enhancing Cultural Responsiveness, and Procedural Justice for Law Enforcement: Four-Part Training Series are part of the training options now offered through CRI-TAC for a fee.
Another initiative that continues after almost a decade, is Coffee with a Cop. In 2012 staff, in partnership with the Hawthorne, CA Police Department took a local community policing initiative to a national and then international level. Coffee with a Cop events have been held in all 50 states and 27 countries. To make it more culturally relevant, in England they call it Tea with a Bobby. In 2016, with an official endorsement from the COPS Office, National Coffee with a Cop Day was established on the first Wednesday in October. It is arguably the most wide-spread community policing program in the world and it has made a huge impact on community-policing relationships around the globe – “one cup of coffee at a time.”
PPSJ staff and trainers have been called upon as a resource to present workshops and keynote speak at many national and international conventions and annual meetings throughout these two decades.
- International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training Conference
- American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting
- 21st Century Policing Annual Meeting
- COPS Office Annual Conference
- National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Annual Conference
This has helped to enhance our national reputation, but more importantly has helped to broaden the reach of community policing and increase officer and community safety.
State Partnerships and Initiatives –
PPSJ’s state partnerships have ranged from private to public organizations. Beyond the original state partners, PPSJ has worked with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Terrorism Task Force, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois NAACP, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, as well as others.
PPSJ is making an impact at the local level to improve law enforcement and community partnerships. PPSJ has assisted in efforts to design and implement crisis intervention strategies when responding to calls for service or emergencies involving persons in crisis and those with mental illness through the implementation of co-responder models for police and mental health providers.
PPSJ staff has also been tasked with evaluation, updating and expanding the Illinois Basic Law Enforcement Academy curricula, the part-time to full-time Transition course, and the Law for Police course along with training considerations for Illinois correctional officers. Undertaking this work requires bringing together law enforcement experts and trainers from state academies, joining their expertise with scholars and researchers, to develop the best possible trainings for the next generation of Illinois police and correctional officers.
The tides are continuing to shift in police-community relations in the United States. With the high visibility of several significant events comes a louder call for a change. Leaders need to be proactive and focused on what kind of officer is needed for the future of law enforcement based on data, research and best practices – a cultural shift in this direction requires more than a reliance on good cops continuing to be good cops. There needs to be a strategically institutionalized policing culture based on internal and external respect, doing what is right and fair; a culture where officers serve as guardians in partnership with members of the community but still have the skills to be effective warriors to protect their community when called upon.
The mission of the Project for Public Safety and Justice is to promote public safety as a philosophy and practice for all members of a community. It is through partnerships and community engagement; organizational change and transformation; innovative approaches and strong community based leadership combined with quality technical assistance and training that the essence of community policing is redefined and applied to enhance the quality of life across the United States. PPSJ will continue to play its roll in this endeavor by looking to the future in an effort to take good research and transform it into practical applications through national and local initiatives.
For more information on providing trainings or technical assistance please contact Charlene Moe, Cedmi1@uis.edu or Susan Patterson, SPatt1@uis.edu.