The world is in the midst of a global migration crisis. By the close of 2015, the number of forcibly displaced persons around the globe had reached 65.3 million, surpassing levels seen in the aftermath of the Second World War. Of these, 21.3 million were refugees—persons whose displacement forces them to flee their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution.
Much of the attention surrounding the migration crisis in the past two years has centered on Europe, to which more than one million migrants and refugees made their way in 2015. Most came from Syria, fleeing the violence that has beset the country since 2011.
Historically, however, it is the United States that has resettled more refugees than any other country in the world.4, 5 Since 1975, more than three million refugees have begun new lives in the United States. For police agencies across the country, this means that every year refugees are joining the communities they serve. Refugees often face unique challenges when building new lives in the United States, and police departments play a critical role in ensuring their successful integration into the community.
In 2016, and as part of a general support grant from Carnegie Corporation, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) examined promising practices and lessons learned for police outreach to refugees in the community. As part of this study, PERF documented the impact that refugee outreach has on police work, public safety, and building trust with the community. PERF conducted site visits with police departments and their community partners, as well as in-depth telephone interviews with police practitioners across the country. With support from Carnegie Corporation, PERF also held a one-day forum in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 2016 for police agencies and their community partners to discuss refugee engagement and methods for success. This report details PERF's findings. Intended to serve as a guide for police professionals, this report presents promising practices and lessons learned for conducting outreach to your refugee community.