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Collaborative Reform Initiative: An Assessment of the St. Louis County Police Department

Publication Date

October 2015


Blake Norton, Edwin E. Hamilton, Rick Braziel, Daniel Linskey, and Jennifer Zeunik


Following multiple officer-involved shootings in the US between 2014-2015—including the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO—it was found that trust in the St. Louis County Police Department had eroded. This lack of trust exacerbated tensions during demonstrations following the death of Michael Brown. The goal of this assessment was to identify ways in which the SLCPD could improve their relationship with the St. Louis community by establishing goals to assess and reform SLCPD’s policies, practices, and related processes. The assessment team used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to assess these areas: document review of departmental policies, manuals, training lesson plans, and strategic plans; semi-structured interviews and focus groups with command staff, officers, and community members; direct observation of SLCPD operations; and collection, coding, and analysis of SLCPD data. The assessment team made 50 findings and 109 recommendations for adjustment to SLCPD policy and procedures to improve operations and relationships between the department and the community it serves. Overall, the assessment team found the SLCPD to be a competent, professional police department, well trained and disciplined in the technical skills necessary to perform police operations. While particularly proficient in the area of tactical operations, the department lacks the training, leadership, and culture necessary to truly engender community policing and to build and sustain trusting relationships with the community.

Research Design


Research Methods

Secondary data analysis, Interviews, Focus groups, Observation / Participant observation

Recommended Citation

Norton, B., Hamilton, E., Braziel, R., Linskey, D., Zeunik, J. (2015). Collaborative reform initiative: An assessment of the St. Louis County Police Department. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/collaborative-reform-initiative-an-assessment-of-the-st-louis-county-police-department/