Seven California foundations have agreed to commit more than $1.3 million to expand an initiative aimed at improving public safety by building trust between law enforcement and communities of color.
Funds from the California Endowment and California Wellness, James Irvine, Rosenberg, San Francisco, Weingart, and William and Flora Hewlett foundations will be used to expand the Building Trust Through Reform initiative, which is led by PICO California, a statewide network of five hundred faith-based community organizations. In partnership with local communities, PICO California will scale a program piloted in Oakland that regularly brought together law enforcement, community members, and activists to identify policy changes, resulting in a decline in officer-involved fatal shootings and a reduction over two years of nearly 40 percent in the city's homicide rate.
With the new funding, the program — part of a collaboration between PICO California and the Rosenberg Foundation — will be expanded over two years to Sacramento and Stockton; Richmond, Berkeley, and San Francisco; Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield; Los Angeles County; San Bernardino and Riverside; and San Diego. As part of the effort, officers and community members will receive training in a number of areas, including unconscious bias. Community members who earn certifications through the initiative will then train up to three thousand additional officers across the state. PICO California also plans to organize a hundred and twenty regional meetings with law enforcement and community members, including formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, to identify concrete policy solutions for improving police and community relationships.
"The tragedies and tension we have collectively witnessed between communities of color and law enforcement call out for collective action — and new approaches," said Don Howard, president and CEO of the Irvine Foundation, which is awarding the anchor grant for the effort. "While the escalating violence and mistrust is profoundly disturbing, we find hope in the promising efforts of PICO California and others to help create safer communities for everyone."