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Kids, Cops, and Community

A Qualitative Assessment of Police, Youth, and Parent Perceptions of Each Other

Harty, Nicole M. MPH; Friedman, Brett MPH; Tung, Gregory J. PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: February 14, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000950
Practice Full Report: PDF Only

Context: Police and communities alike have experienced many traumatic incidents over the last 4 years, prompting police departments across the country to rethink their approach to community programs.

Program: Aurora's Gang Reduction Impact Program (A-GRIP) launched “Kids, Cops, and Community” (KC&C) in Aurora, Colorado, as a community-based quality improvement project designed to improve community relations by better understanding Aurora police and community members' perceptions of each other and current A-GRIP and Aurora for Youth programs by assessing police, youth, and parents' perceptions of each other.

Implementation: After a review of current scientific literature on police-community relations, a KC&C advisory group oversaw the creation of key informant interview and focus group guides. A-GRIP recruited participants for 37 interviews (20 police, 8 youth, and 9 parents) and 3 youth focus groups. The community advisory group assisted in the development of salient themes and practical recommendations. The final report outlined 5 major themes (pros/cons of types of police interactions, respectful communication, false uniqueness effect, parenting and police as parents, and youth-police programming awareness) and 2 specific recommendations (sustain/increase opportunities for police-youth interactions and increase community awareness of youth programming).

Evaluation: A-GRIP members had a rich discussion of the implications of these findings in which there was broad support for identifying a strategy to use these results to improve police-community relations. The coalition was challenged by identifying clear next steps because of turnover in administration and coalition leadership, but they have made progress in increasing information and resource sharing.

Discussion: This project provides the first model we are aware of that incorporates a systematic assessment of police, youth, and parent perspectives from the same community. Other communities may find value in adapting the KC&C process to identify promising approaches and refine programming elements of police-community engagement activities.

Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora Colorado.

Correspondence: Nicole M. Harty, MPH, Department of Information Systems, Mental Health Center of Denver, 4141 E Dickenson Place, Denver, CO 80222 (

We thank the community members of Aurora, Colorado, who participated in this project for openly sharing their perspectives and experiences. We are grateful for all of the members of the Kids, Cops, and Community (KC&C) Working Group for their guidance in development, implementation, and reflection of the entire project and members of the A-GRIP and ViP Project Teams for their assistance in recruitment and project guidance.

This work was supported by federal award number 2016-MU-BX-0115 awarded by the Department of Justice issued by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommen-dations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice or the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice.

This project was reviewed and deemed nonhuman subjects research exempt by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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