What is Restorative Policing?

Police Blue

On Monday, Lisa Rea of Restorative Justice International participated in a discussion in Davis on Police Oversight and Restorative Justice.  There she talked about a webinar she hosted in 2016 on restorative policing.  In addition to the 90-minute audio webinar (that you can listen to here) with Paul McCold and Terry O’Connell, Ms. Rea gave us permission to republish portions of their White Paper on Restorative Policing.  You can read the full White Paper here.

Restorative Policing Definition and Description

A new policing paradigm is called for as an integral part of policing, and not just an interjection of restorative justice processes into current policing practice. Restorative practices should underpin all policing and be guided by restorative justice values of respect, dialogue and relationships, and not focused on crime, but broadly on harmful wrongdoing and conflict and support for victims and affected communities.

Restorative policing is a relational paradigm of policing that focuses on creating safer, more connected communities through restorative justice practices underpinned by restorative principles of safety, accountability, sustainability, relationship building and constructive engagement. The policing function is understood to be a whole community responsibility with police as part of a broader social maintenance effort. Restorative policing actively support victims, offenders, their families and communities to respond creatively and positively to conflict through restorative
justice processes. The goal of restorative policing is reducing harmful wrongdoing and conflict through the positive engagement of community and governmental resources.

Restorative policing is described by the following:

  • Police as peacemakers and master facilitators, largely of informal processes focused on engagement [as opposed to involvement] and collaboration [rather than cooperation].
  • Police recognize that offender accountability, responsibility and obligation are primarily to those directly affected and then to the community, where the first priority is the needs of victims and the relationships harmed. In talking with the victims, the initial conversation needs to be about the impact of the incident rather than a preoccupation with the details.
  • Police create conditions for reflection and learning for all involved — where crime becomes an opportunity to make sense and meaning of what has  happened and  what is needed to strengthen relationships and keep people safe.
  • Policing by community [as opposed to community policing], engaging and empowering families and community organizations in responding to and managing conflict with officers acting as community leaders and resource brokers.
  • Police view rituals and processes for reconnection as vital elements in community reconciliation and restoration.
  • Police use their discretion in such a way that prioritises problem–‐solving over crime control with emphasis on possibilities rather than problems.
  • Police ensure there are constructive community responses to potentially harmful situations rather than waiting [reacting] for an offence.
  • Police view law enforcement as a regrettable last resort; contributing to everyone living in safe and supportive relationships is the first resort for crime prevention.

For the 90 minute webinar click here: http://www.restorativejusticeinternational.com/2016/restorative-policing-webinar-recording-september-30-2016/

For the full white paper click here:  http://www.restorativejusticeinternational.com/assets/RJI-White-Paper-on-Restorative-Policing-01-JUL-16pdf.pdf

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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