What the Durham Police Department Can Do to Enhance Safety and Earn Trust

This report contains the findings of an academic study Ajenai Clemmons conducted for her dissertation while a Ph.D. Candidate at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Clemmons recruited participants and conducted two-hour qualitative interviews of young Black men living in Durham’s neighborhoods facing among the highest levels of economic distress and police contact. She ended the interviews in March 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

The purpose of the in-depth interviews was to examine how these young men assessed police and policing, and what kinds of reforms, if any, might be desired. The report contains five sections:

  1. An introduction that summarizes the research methods and provides an overview of the participants’ upbringing as context to the report’s results
  2. Findings and policy recommendations regarding participants’ criteria for judging how well Durham police are doing
  3. Findings and policy recommendations regarding participants’ ideal attributes and behaviors of officers that would help officers to carry out participants’ aspirations for policing
  4. Findings and policy recommendations regarding participants’ standards for building and maintaining trust
  5. A conclusion that synthesizes the findings and recommendations leading into the closing argument participants make about what they wish to achieve with these desired reforms and why it matters.

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