Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

Partnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement

By Shaonta’ Allen, second year doctoral student in Sociology, graduate assistant, Yates Fellow, and Southern Regional Education Board Scholar

Through The Cincinnati Project,  I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Black United Front, a local organization committed to bettering community police relations in Cincinnati, on a research project aimed at refreshing the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement. This anti-bias policing agreement was signed by the city, the police department, and community leaders in the wake of the 2001 civil unrest that culminated out of a police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man. City leaders are making a public pledge to review the Collaborative Agreement, as it was the basis of the previous decade’s police reforms.

We worked together to create a survey that would capture community members’ perspectives of policing. I assisted with the data collection process as well as with data analysis and reporting. In addition to making the survey available online, I, along with a few other team members, attended popular community events throughout the city, such as the Cincinnati Music Festival and the Black Family Reunion, in the hopes of recruiting respondents in person. Altogether we received over 1200 responses in a just a 3-month time-period! I worked with University of Cincinnati Political Science Professor Brian Calfano to analyze the data that was reported which was later converted into a comprehensive report over 125 pages long.

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement’s booth at the Black Family Reunion where community members could stop by and take the survey

It was very exciting to be a part of this research project because the community’s voice is often overlooked when it comes to discussions of policing, yet in a short amount of time I was able to work with a team that collected a ton of data that captured just that! I was also able to  present some of our data at a public forum attended by not only community members but also several police-officers. This was particularly rewarding because, in a way, I was able to link the community’s comments and suggestions about policing directly back to the individuals who could implement the changes that they proposed.

As a sociologist interested in race relations and social justice, I’ve always believed that the research I conduct should have direct implications on the betterment of my community. Working on this survey regarding the Collaborative Agreement has reinforced this belief.

 

The Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement Research Team posing for a quick picture at the Cincinnati Music Festival

I have been able to see first-hand how vital it is for our stories to be told from our own perspectives, and I have witnessed the negative implications of what happens when we are not in positions to advocate for ourselves.

“This collaboration has helped make me a better scholar”

Working on this project has assisted with the development of my quantitative research skills. I’ve tailored most of my academic methodological training towards qualitative skills. However, working with Professor Calfano on analyzing the survey data pushed me out of my comfort zone, and has helped make me a better scholar.

Presenting the findings at a community meeting.

Presenting this data at the community forum equipped me with the skills to present data in non-academic settings. As a graduate student I attend several academic conferences a year and as a result, I have experience giving academic talks. However, given my commitment to ensuring my research is accessible to my community, knowing how to discuss research results in layman’s terms is an essential skill which I now have thanks to this collaboration!

Overall, I’m thankful for this opportunity and excited to continue working with these community organizations. We already have plans to present our data at another community forum and are additionally in the early stages of writing a research article together. This all serves as an indication of the significance of collaborative work between community partners and university research scholars.

jmalatPartnering with the Black United Front on the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement
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Working Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement

Working Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement

By Brian Robert Calfano, Ph.D.

Working with Iris Roley and Al Gerhardstein has been a meaningful learning experience for me, and I can certainly say that I have learned far more about Cincinnati from the viewpoint of these pivotal stakeholders than I would have initially imagined.

I was approached in early summer 2017 to lead a survey project that would assess community impressions of the Collaborative Agreement, community/police relations, and citizen familiarity with complaint processes put in place since the agreement went into effect in 2002. Both Iris and Al were heavily involved in helping to determine the questions and topics featured in the survey, and Iris was especially instrumental in working to ensure that community members were made aware of the survey’s purpose as part of the larger goal of determining the nature of a collaborative “refresh”.

Data collection ran from June to September, with analysis beginning in mid-September in anticipation of presenting the findings at the city’s first community forum on the collaborative refresh (set for the 25th). Working with Shaonta Allen, a University of Cincinnati graduate in sociology, Iris, Al, and I collaborated daily (sometimes multiple times a day) during the analysis and report write-up period to determine the best ways to communicate the findings and insights to the broadest possible audience.

Throughout the process, I was often reminded through Iris and Al’s abiding concern for the prospect of social justice in Cincinnati that the purpose of my effort was not simply to capture accurately the views of the over 1200 community members who participated in the survey research, but to enlighten and inspire the collective discussion about the Collaborative Agreement’s future in securing a truly just city for all its residents.

jmalatWorking Together to Refresh the Collaborative Agreement
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At the 2016 NAACP Convention

At the 2016 NAACP Convention

By Jennifer Malat

The Cincinnati Project organized quickly when we received a last-minute invitation to help with a series of community-police relations forums at the NAACP Convention.

We were asked to help with qualitative data collection and analysis—in other words, taking detailed notes and writing summaries—in partnership with community members. UC Arts & Sciences undergraduate and graduate sociology and psychology students assisted with this project. 

UC students at 2016 NAACP Convention

UC students at the NAACP Convention

All of the students have a particular interest in the study of racial inequality and were eager to join the research team. The students benefited not only by being present at a national convention, they (me too!) also had the opportunity to learn from experts outside of UC.

Working with the 2002 Collaborative Agreement

 As part of this research project, we met community organizers and facilitators who worked on the 2002 Collaborative Agreement to improve community-police interactions. In our role of taking notes, we listened to their experiences and noted their advice for NAACP attendees who hope to reduce violence against black citizens. This experience is one example of a goal for The Cincinnati Project: UC researchers and students learning from community experts while providing research service. 

cinciprojectAt the 2016 NAACP Convention
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