Shared goals, stronger bonds: 4 organizations led by – and for – police officers and the communities they serve
Forcemetrics, New Blue, MovementForward, and IGNITE are improving public safety and strengthening police-community relations in cities across the country.
Americans are demanding solutions to rising crime and cratering trust between police and communities they serve. One often-overlooked source of solutions is the nation’s 800,000 police officers. That’s fortunately starting to change.
Many police officers share Americans’ outrage with the failures of a criminal justice system that prescribes the use of force and punishment as the default solution to seemingly every societal ill. They know well how that one-size-fits-all approach can quickly escalate peaceful interactions into deadly situations for all involved, including good police officers and innocent citizens.
More and more law enforcement officers – former and current– are starting to emerge as the leaders our country has been searching for. Here are just four of the organizations they have created in the past few years that the Stand Together community is partnering with today.
ForceMetrics: A tool that works for every facet of public safety
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Andre McGregor, a former FBI agent, engineer, and Chief Security Officer, founded ForceMetrics, a revolutionary tool engineered to radically enhance public safety. By tapping into the power of data analytics, ForceMetrics equips law enforcement officers with critical context surrounding emergency calls in just two minutes, a process that once took anywhere from 40 minutes up to six hours on older systems.
The software serves as a bridge, fostering stronger relations between the police and the communities they serve by allowing officers to approach situations with greater understanding. Whether an individual is suicidal, has autism, is deaf, or possesses a criminal record, officers can now arrive on the scene better prepared, mitigating the risk of situations escalating unnecessarily. This crucial knowledge also enables dispatchers to assign the most appropriate response teams during 911 calls.
ForceMetrics underscores the pivotal role law enforcement officers play not just in maintaining law and order, but also in building trust within communities. As McGregor puts it, ForceMetrics is “a tool that works for every facet of public safety,” benefiting police officers and the communities they serve alike.
New Blue: Transforming police culture from within
Like ForceMetrics founder Andre McGregor, former police officer Andy Saunders was stunned when he saw George Floyd’s life taken away. Saunders understands most police officers are committed to serving their communities, yet recognizes the prevalent trust issues stemming from poor police-community relationships.
Along with his friend and colleague, Brittany Nestor, Saunders launched New Blue to mend this trust deficit. What makes New Blue unique is that it seeks to drive solutions from within departments, engaging officers who are willing to challenge the status quo of police culture itself.
New Blue is a year-long fellowship granting financial support, education, and networking opportunities to officers eager to make a change from within the system. Each participant develops a unique solution addressing a community issue, and New Blue assists in implementing it.
Every year, a new group of officers from across the nation joins the program, puts their solutions into action, and shares their findings. The first group of officers remains connected, consistently exchanging ideas. They’ve reported that New Blue’s initiative has been successful within their departments and has resulted in progress that would have otherwise been unachievable on their own.
New Blue is now accepting fellowship and microgrant applications for 2024.
MovementForward: Supporting community engagement officers
In February, MovementForward launched the nation’s first network to support the critical work of officers tasked with leading community engagement efforts within their departments. Known as the Law Enforcement Community-Engagement Network (LECEN), it provides access to best practices, peer support, industry insights, and up-to-date research that enable officers to build meaningful connections within their communities.
Community engagement is a proven public safety solution that is often overlooked in favor of flashier political slogans. Prior to the network’s launch, there was no national resource for public safety professionals responsible for community engagement.
President & CEO of MovementForward, Rev. Markel Hutchins recognized this gap. As a civil rights leader who has worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement for years, he believes that restoring trust between the police and the community is critical if we hope to progress.
The inaugural LECEN cohort, a diverse group representing 20 departments from across the country convened in January. Their task is to lay a robust foundation for LECEN’s expansion, using evidence-backed approaches to reduce prejudice, bridge divides, and foster community trust. This venture is a critical step towards enhancing public safety and advancing civil and human rights.
IGNITE: Transforming county jails into rehabilitative classrooms
The IGNITE program was created by Sheriff Chris Swanson of Genesee County, MI, and subsequently adopted by the National Sheriff’s Association. It underscores the pivotal role law enforcement can play in fostering community relations and bolstering public safety.
Launched in 2020, IGNITE addresses the overlooked educational needs in county jails, which witness admission rates 20 times higher than prisons.
The program empowers incarcerated individuals with education, job training, and life skills, equipping them for a productive reentry into society. These rehabilitative efforts not only break the chains of generational incarceration but also cultivate strong community relationships, contributing significantly to public safety.
As Sheriff Swanson puts it, “IGNITE restores hope, proving that with adequate support, generational incarceration can be overcome, and community relationships strengthened.”
IGNITE’s impact is growing, now present in 12 counties, including the recent addition of Collin County, Texas. Since its inception, over 2,000 students have benefitted, completing over 250,000 classroom hours.
“When I became Sheriff, it was clear the traditional jail system was not well-equipped to help people get back on track or to promote public safety,” said Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, who has also implemented IGNITE. “By rehabilitating the people who come through our doors, we can prevent future crime and help our community members live better lives.”
Learn more about Stand Together’s criminal justice reform efforts.
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