Research group hired to evaluate Brooklyn Park Police Department, develop ideas for improvement

A Twin Cities suburb is taking a step to ensure equity in public safety.

Brooklyn Park has hired St. Paul-based Wilder Research to evaluate policing, community safety and violence prevention. The city calls this a proactive approach to building trust between its police officers and the diverse community they’re sworn to protect.

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeffrey Lunde said, "For us, police reform hasn’t been just this year, it’s been something we’ve been working on for years, knowing that every year we have more to do."

The examination of the officers will last about six months.

"We think this is the next evolution, and so we are actually pretty excited about what they are going to tell us," Lunde said.

Wilder Research researchers said the analysis will be holistic.

"We have a project approach, and it’s not just about the police department, but about community safety, and violence prevention more broadly," Lindsay Turney, a research associate, said.

Turner will be a co-researcher on the study. She said they’ll do three things: Look at how Brooklyn Park police are doing compared to policing best practices, look at what the community says about community safety, as well as examine what might be driving a lack of safety or violence, and how the city might improve intervention and prevention.

"This is an approach that is tried and tested in different police departments throughout the country, but not one that we see continually implemented," Turner explained.

"We are really being activated to get into the community and understand what’s going on as far as the safety and policing, and build out tools and relationships that are going to be necessary to solve and address those problems moving forward," Turner said.

That’ll come in the form of a scorecard this summer. Then, the Mayor says the city, police department and community will use that score card to decide on potential changes together.