Eastern Michigan University's SMART Project, with help from grants, to address policing policies which have historically had a negative impact on communities of color

Community-led transformation will lead to best practices in policing and public safety services

Illustration made of crumpled paper silhouettes of many people of color and one blue uniformed police officer

YPSILANTI -- For many years, communities of color have experienced harsh and unjust treatment from police departments across the nation with some people losing their lives at the hands of police. But a new initiative seeks to address racial inequities and promote transformation in public safety.

The grants were awarded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s (CFSEM) Community Policing Innovations Fund, and support Eastern Michigan University’s Southeast Michigan Criminal Justice Policy Research Project (SMART) in its mission to serve as a resource for local groups working on such issues.

SMART will collaborate with Ann Arbor’s Police Department and Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Association and the Eastern Michigan University Public Safety Oversight Committee to help facilitate several community-led initiatives throughout the region. SMART will provide technical guidance and training assistance to the local groups to develop community-driven, substantive, and pragmatic changes in the way that policing and public safety services are provided by local law enforcement agencies.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with the CFSEM’s Community Policing Innovations Fund, in large part because it offers a model of community-led transformation,” said Kevin Karpiak, director of EMU’s Southeast Michigan Criminal Justice Policy Research Project. “We’ve assembled a multidisciplinary team consisting of EMU faculty in sociology, anthropology, criminology, political science and public administration programs to address the deep-rooted issues of our current system.  Through this initiative, we’ll be able to mobilize the expertise of EMU faculty to facilitate a set of truly imaginative community initiatives.”  

SMART is a collaborative that serves as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of research on matters pertaining to criminal justice policy in southeast Michigan. It is a mechanism for the education and professional development of EMU students, community advocates and criminal justice professionals and a networking space for exploration and collaboration.

Recent training and technical assistance initiatives by SMART-affiliated faculty include public lectures and events, and workshops for elected and other city officials and staff. It’s members have also facilitated practices in restorative justice principles and conflict resolution as well as training modules for incorporating diversity and equity into crisis intervention programs.  

Visit the SMART website for additional information. 

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

November 10, 2021

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher