Special to The Dallas Examiner
The Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program, a two-year $700,000 program aimed at identifying, supporting and promoting police policies and practices in cities shown to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents, was launched in January.
The program is a national partnership between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target. Laysha Ward, executive vice president and chief external engagement officer for Target, announced the creation of grant program at the 2021 USCM Winter Meeting in January.
“The Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant will help mayors and cities to continue these targeted, dynamic efforts to strengthen public safety and racial justice,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of USCM. “We are grateful to have a partner in Target that recognizes and supports cities that are putting in the work to achieve greater racial justice and strengthen the trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve.”
Across the country, increasing numbers of law enforcement agencies are using co-responder models for service calls involving individuals that appear to have issues involving a mentally illness, substance abuse or homelessness; mandatory officer training that covers implicit bias, discrimination and related issues; community policing efforts that target specific community needs, including those of young people, immigrants, and homeless people; and policies to increase transparency and officer accountability. The grant program was created to recognize, support and promote such practices that many cities have been employing.
“As one of the nation’s largest retailers and employers, Target has an unwavering commitment to create spaces where our team members, guests and communities feel safe,” said Laysha Ward, EVP and chief external engagement officer at Target. “It will take the collective efforts of individuals, private businesses, community partners and public agencies to dismantle systemic racism, which is why we’re proud to support the Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program and the innovative solutions that will result in more equitable policing in communities across the country.”
On Monday the city of Dallas learned that it was one of three recipients that would receive the grant. Moreover, Dallas was the sole winner of the program’s Large City Award, which totals $175,000.
The grant will be used to expand the city’s RIGHT Care program, which currently provides a multidisciplinary team capable of immediate mobilization and response to mental health-related police calls 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Dallas is a national leader in taking comprehensive, innovative and proactive approaches to public safety,” Mayor Eric Johnson said. “While we are committed to law enforcement, we are also implementing and expanding new programs that address social, environmental, and behavioral issues in our communities. RIGHT Care is one such program, and it has helped us to dramatically improve outcomes for people experiencing mental health crises. We are honored to be recognized for our work, and with this grant, we can continue our efforts to build safer, stronger, kinder and more just communities.”
Johnson serves on the USCM advisory board and as the USCM vice chair for Aviation. The city’s Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions, which oversees RIGHT Care and the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities programs, worked on the grant proposal.
Summary descriptions of the winning programs, along with the balance of the 36 programs submitted by cities in the grant competition, have been posted on the Conference of Mayors website under the Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities. The goal is to share with all mayors information on the approaches to police reform being taken or planned by their colleagues throughout the country.
Learn more about the partnership between Target and USCM, and the Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant program at https://www.usmayors.org.