An initial catalyst for Project PEACE (Partnering for Equity and Community Engagement) came from a group of leaders in the African American Community who requested that the Tacoma News Tribune host a meeting to discuss recent national events that brought attention to difficult relationships between law enforcement and communities of color. Many feared that a Baltimore or Ferguson could happen in Tacoma. The meeting took place and city officials made a commitment to proactively address historical and present-day sources and manifestations of community distrust, anger and grief. A Planning Committee was formed in June 2015 to launch Project PEACE including representatives of the Tacoma City Council, the City Manager’s Office, Tacoma Police Department, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights and its various community partners.
The mission of Project PEACE is to build a foundation of trust between historically marginalized communities and law enforcement. The aims of the project are to:
The Tacoma Police Department was involved in the planning and implementation of Project PEACE. Many officers participated in the community dialogues to understand residents’ concerns and enhance trust. Chief Ramsdell and his team reviewed a preliminary report summarizing community feedback and they developed the following list of proposed action items in response to this feedback.
Community Meetings- Founders of Project PEACE set out with the hope that the project could help build trust between law enforcement and the community, while at the same time reducing crime. Ideas for how this could happen were gathered in six community meetings in which over 800 people participated, followed by the creation of a report that laid out goals for the future.
Executive Committee- Project PEACE Executive Committee (PPEC) was formed because of the Project PEACE initial forums and continues today. PPEC is a group of community members, comprised of youth and adults, which aims to assure relationship between law enforcement and communities of color are built and improved, information relevant to Project PEACE actions are shared with the larger community, and opportunities are created for law enforcement and communities to engage in dialogues and learning opportunities. PPEC is regularly updated on all actions carried out by TPD in regards to Project PEACE, and be directly involved in some outcome-based actions (e.g. youth-police dialogues).
Police Data Sessions– Three geographically-targeted sessions were organized to inform community members about TPD’s participation in White House Police Data Initiative, followed by a brief dialogue between community members and police executives. Over 150 participants attended the first two events. Police officers understand a new vision of racially equitable policing that is focused on eliminating racial inequities and improving safety for all.
Following a successful series of Project PEACE conversations, the Tacoma Police Department has continued this initiative by expanding and adding formal structure to many programs that the department had historically embedded in our Community Oriented Policing to help create safer neighborhoods and foster a higher level of community engagement. From the community feedback, an action item list was created using the six pillars developed. It is updated regularly and available to online the public.
Timeline of Project – Since 2015
Initiator– City of Tacoma
Project PEACE website
Tacoma, WA– 2018 AAC Finalist: Presentation
Director Office of Equity and Human Rights
City of Tacoma