Statement of Purpose The U.S. Department of Justice identified Baltimore Police Department officers as having applied unnecessary and excessive force in their interactions with youth, failing to uphold legal and professional obligations to be sensitive to their vulnerable age and developmental status. The Youth-Police Dialogue Circle (YPDC) Program of Baltimore Community Mediation Center (BCMC) offers unique insight into police-youth interactions and plays an important role in city efforts to reduce violence, increase police legitimacy, and build community trust. This study evaluated the effect of the YPDC program on youth and police attitudes and perceptions of one another.
Methods/Approach A mixed methods approach was used to evaluate YPDC program effect on attitudes, perceptions, and concerns among police and youth participants. Surveys collected pre-, post-, and one month following program participation were evaluated. Likert scale questions were evaluated quantitatively to assess whether the program significantly impacted participants’ views and open-ended responses were analyzed qualitatively to identify key themes and glean important context.
Results Surveys demonstrate significant improvement in youth and police perceptions and suggest YPDC program participation contributed to mutual understanding. Program impact appears to further develop over time. Police and youth participants’ open-ended responses indicate positive support for additional and expanded YPDC programming.
Conclusions The results indicate the YPDC program is effective at improving youth and police attitudes, perceptions, and concerns of one another. Expansion and sustained funding of the YPDC program is suggested and encouraged.
Significance and Contributions to Injury Research The YPDC program offers opportunities for police and youth to engage in positive interactions and the chance to address and challenge misperceptions. This intervention has the potential to contribute to meaningful violence reduction efforts, promote behavior change, and restore community-police relations.
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