When refugees arrive from war torn countries they are often unfamiliar with U.S. laws, individual rights, and even property ownership, putting them at risk of unfortunate encounters with law enforcement. This is changing thanks to the work of local police departments that are proactively developing innovative ways of interacting with refugee communities and building trust.
The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), has been studying the most promising practices — conducting research, making site visits, and holding a discussion forum for police and community partners from around the country. This month PERF released a report highlighting and analyzing best practices in four cities: San Diego, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Fargo, ND, and Boise, ID.
To better understand the impact that exemplary community policing is making both in refugee communities and within police departments, CCNY has been visiting Boise, Idaho with a documentary film crew. For more than a decade, Boise has been a top ten per capita refugee resettlement site. Refugees arrive from nations like Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo that are devastated by violent conflict. In those countries, “Police might have been a threat to them or a cause for fear when they came knocking at the door,” says Police Chief William Bones, “we want them to see us as a resource and somebody that they can go to for safety.” The department’s effort to better understand the problems and build trust in the refugee population is lead by Dustin Robinson, the refugee liaison officer.
Read the report: Refugee Outreach and Engagement Programs for Police Agencies