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An Examination of The 2015 Police and Community Relations Improvement Act:
From Doctrine to Practice

Published August 16, 2016
Executive Summary

Headlines regarding violence in America and the deterioration of the relationship between law enforcement and the community resulted in the Illinois General Assembly’s enactment of Public Act 099-0352, Police and Community Relations Improvement Act. This Public Act, signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in August 2015, addresses comprehensive police reform at the state level, including the use of body cameras, expanded procedural justice and other training and independent reviews of police-involved death.
The Veritatis Institute convened a group made up of (5) Elected & Appointed Municipal Leaders, (4) Law Enforcement Executives, (4) Members of Research & Academia to explore the scope of this new law, its effect on our communities across the State of Illinois, and policy alternatives and enhancements for today and for the future. Using the Veritatis Way debate framework, the invitation-only participants reviewed and discussed the realities and perceptions of public safety in our communities, implementation and costs of this new law, and provided recommendations to make this law even more effective.

The outcome of the one-day forum included recommendations on the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) and suggestions on rolling out enhanced training. In addition, the forum debate prompted the creation of a survey of representatives of law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois in order to understand whether they currently use BWCs, if they plan on using BWCs, and what sorts of barriers exist to utilizing BWCs. The results are included in appendices of this white paper.

Building Bridges Between the Police and the Community:
The 2015 Police and Community Relations Improvement Act From Doctrine to Practice

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday, December 8, 2015 Oak Brook, Illinois


The Veritatis Institute hosted its inaugural public policy forum, Building Bridges Between the Police and the Community: The 2015 Police and Community Relations Improvement Act From Doctrine to Practice on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. The Veritatis Institute selected police and community relations as its first issue, because it continues to be among the most critical public policy issues facing our leaders and society today. Nationwide public outcry for police reform reached a crescendo in 2015 after a series of highly-publicized incidents, including the police shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island, New York.

In May 2015, President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing published its Final Report identifying best policing practices and offering recommendations on how those practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. On August 12, 2015, the State of Illinois followed suit when Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois Police and Community Relations Improvement Act (Act) into law. The Act was a compilation of 200 separate pieces of legislation intended to reform policing practices and build trust and legitimacy within the community. Starting in January 2016, law enforcement agencies were required to begin complying with the recommendations of the Act.

The Veritatis Institute forum provided an opportunity for members of Illinois law enforcement, local government and academia to review the implementation process and costs of compliance with this new law. In addition forum attendees were presented with scientific evidence about programs that work, and developed recommendations to make this law even more effective.

The findings and recommendations, including the BWC survey results can be downloaded by clicking the following link:

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The Veritatis Way

The Veritatis Way describes the 4-Step process created to identify, vet and debate public policy issues within the Veritatis Institute. It is a consistent, repeatable framework for topic discovery and analysis that aligns with the organization’s research-to-practice approach to critical public policy issues. The 4-step Veritatis Way process starts with identifying and vetting a public policy topic for consideration. Once a topic is agreed upon for debate within the forum, the next step is to gather all available research on the issue. In addition, members of academia who have published research on the topic of debate are invited to participate in the forum panel and share their findings. Rounding out the panel are individuals who are directly affected by the topic of debate. These practitioners are invited to serve as a sounding board to either validate or refute research findings. They are also asked to share their thoughts on the impacts of legislation or policy changes. The final step in the Veritatis Way is to synthesize and package the findings and conclusions from the forum and present them to policymakers or legislators with a call to action.

Step 1: Identify the Topic

The Veritatis Institute applies a set of criteria to determine which public policy topics are suitable for debate in its forum. The selection process aligns with the organization’s mission to foster a greater understanding of contemporary issues facing leaders today through a research-to-practice approach. The Veritatis Institute looks for topics and issues that are timely, broad-based and under current debate with policymakers. A topic is a good fit for the Veritatis Institute when forum debate can foster legislative or policy recommendations or calls to action. The organization will host debates on proposed legislation or existing policy impacting the community. Particular consideration is given to issues where there exists a disconnect between the intent of the policy language and how it is being implemented in society.

Step 2: Conduct a Research Audit

As a research-based organization, the availability of data on a topic is a key determinant of whether a topic will be selected for the forum. When a topic lacks research, yet merits discussion based on its timeliness and its impact on public policy, the Veritatis Institute will seek out experts to conduct research on the issue. If current research on a topic is not available or cannot be conducted in a timely manner, it will fail to meet the requirements for debate.

After a public policy topic of issue is accepted and introduced into the forum, the Veritatis Institute conducts an audit of current information and research on the subject. Researchers and members of academia, including those who assisted in conducting research in preparation for the forum are invited to the forum and present their findings.

A Veritatis Institute forum always begins with an overview of the topic and presentation of research. This format provides attendees with a baseline foundation of knowledge on which to debate the issue. It also encourages a research-to-practice debate approach whereby ideas are measured against what current research is saying on a particular topic and merits of policy are measured against its written intent. This format also helps to identify other important questions regarding the topic that may not have been considered prior to understanding the facts and figures of a given topic.

Step 3: Invite Practitioner Input

The Veritatis Institute strives to bring together a diverse cross-section of practitioners to encourage a well- rounded debate. After completing the research audit, the panel is rounded out with the invitation of subject- matter practitioners. These are people who are considered thought leaders on the topic. They are invited to participate in the forum by listening to the research and policy overview and providing feedback. They type of feedback asked of practitioners include examples of any shortcomings, benefits or unintended consequences they have experienced in the field.

Step 4: Present Findings & Recommendations

The final step in the Veritatis Way process is to develop a call to action at the conclusion of the forum. This can take many forms, including a position piece on the legislation, a request for further research or a list of recommended changes on existing public policy. The call to action is always packaged together with a concise white-paper briefing of the forum, which includes a list of participants, summary of research and key takeaways. Once assembled, the Veritatis Institute hosts a presentation of findings with the appropriate audience of legislators or policymakers. The researchers and practitioners who participated in the forum debate are invited to join in the presentation and are available to answer questions from the audience.

The Veritatis Way provides the Veritatis Institute with a framework for undertaking and examining public policy issues. It provides repeatable methodology for running a forum that encourages its members and guests to stay within its mission while still having the flexibility to be a useful resource to all areas of public policy debate. As the Veritatis Institute continues to evolve, it will also look to refine its process to ensure it remain independent, non- partisan and research-based in its practice and execution.