Police reform in the U.S. isn’t easy. If it were, authorities in Minneapolis could look back at how Baltimore and Ferguson successfully overhauled their departments following the deaths of unarmed Black men during confrontations with city officers. Truth is, they didn’t – well, not successfully.

Perhaps a better example, suggest Georgia State University criminal justice scholars Thaddeus and Natasha Johnson, is Cincinnati. In 2001, the city saw major unrest over the shooting death of a Black teen. But what came next was an innovative agreement among community activists, city managers and the police over a package of reforms. Getting the community on board is key, and could be further enhanced by refocusing officers' time away from low-level infractions, suggests Thaddeus Johnson. He should know; he was a cop for 10 years.

Also today:

Matt Williams

Religion & Ethics Editor

Getting police and community on board with reforms is crucial for success. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

American cities have long struggled to reform their police – but isolated success stories suggest community and officer buy-in might be key

Thaddeus L. Johnson, Georgia State University; Natasha N. Johnson

Attempts to reform US police departments fail when they are unable to get community support. Perhaps it is time to take a different tack, argue two criminal justice scholars – one a former cop.

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