Earlier this month, the merger between the Rutgers Center on Policing and the Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience was announced.
The merger is funded by a $2 million donation from Rutgers alum Paul Miller and will combine the two facilities to focus on community-oriented policing practices, according to the announcement.
The Rutgers Center on Policing was founded in 2001 and focuses on using research to create better law enforcement policy and practice, according to the center’s website.
The center’s current initiatives include working with the Newark Police Department to amend its training and community engagement policies to reflect the Department of Justice’s consent decree with the city.
John Farmer, director of the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics and of the Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience, said the Center on Policing was created in 2001 when many individuals thought public safety should be analyzed in terms of policy and trends.
The focus of the current Miller Center is to assist in creating more trusting relationships between vulnerable communities and law enforcement agencies, he said.
The Miller Center achieves this goal by conducting on-site work in areas where there is tension between communities and policing structures, Farmer said. The center analyzes each situation individually and offers personalized solutions to meet the needs of each community.
"Our touchstone is the belief in government by the consent of the governed. Where that relationship of trust has broken down, it must be rebuilt, but there is no single right way to rebuild it," Farmer said. "We have assisted communities as far-flung as Malmo, Sweden, Whitefish, Montana, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and communities as diverse as the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities."
He said some of the center’s most recent research includes investigation on social media patterns of far-right extremist groups such as QAnon, the Boogaloo Boyz militia and those who organized the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Farmer said the Miller Center and the Center on Policing have similar goals and have worked together multiple times in the past. Their merger into the Miller Center on Policing Excellence and Community Resilience will provide the ability to combine resources and work on bigger issues.
He said the centers plan to meet prior to 2023 to discuss the direction of their new work. Farmer said this work will continue to be tied to the pillars of Rutgers’ Academic Master Plan, which include scholarly leadership, innovative research, student success and community engagement.
With respect to innovative research and student success, Farmer said the new Miller Center will continue to focus on its work analyzing social media and furthering student involvement that can directly impact the community. In addition, the center’s work will continue to focus on community engagement and publishing scholarly research.
"We are committed to publishing the fruits of our research and putting our conclusions to work to assist vulnerable populations and the institutions that serve them in building safer, more resilient communities," he said.