PERF disseminated a survey on November 23, in which we asked our members to share their views about priorities for the incoming Presidential Administration.  As of December 1, more than 375 responses were submitted.

Today’s Daily Critical Issues Report provides a summary of the responses to the survey’s first four questions.  These questions focused on general priorities for 2021 and beyond, key areas for federal funding, and training and technology needs.

Results from the remaining survey questions and further analysis will be provided in upcoming reports.


Question 1: Please choose the top 3 issues in policing that you consider most important for 2021 and beyond.

As the graph indicates, the most common response, chosen by more than three-fourths of respondents, was increasing public trust in the police.

The related issue of “addressing police reform” was the #2 response, followed by officer safety and wellness.

Of those who selected “other,” common themes included recruitment and hiring, and issues where public safety and public health intersect, such as drug use and mental health issues.


Question 2: Please choose three areas where you would most like to see federal grant assistance.

The most common response, chosen by nearly 60% of respondents, was that local police need federal assistance for training programs.  Other top priorities include research on “what works” in policing, and grants for police equipment. These three were identified as higher priorities than hiring either sworn or non-sworn personnel.

Individuals who selected “other” expressed a need for funding for community policing endeavors, including exploring non-law enforcement responses to some calls, and building relationships with the community.  

Other respondents reported a need for officer safety and wellness grants, particularly for mental wellness, and for greater analysis of crime and police activity.


Question 3. If you would like to see federal funding for equipment or technology in policing, what types of equipment or technology are you most interested in?

Top responses included the following:

Body-Worn Cameras:  Some agencies, especially smaller ones, said that BWCs are out of reach financially.  Others are concerned that the continued expense for storage of BWC footage and maintenance of the cameras could lead to the cancellation of existing BWC programs. Some respondents said they continue to focus on less expensive dashboard cameras.

Less-Lethal Technologies:  Respondents expressed a great deal of interest in less-lethal technologies. Many expressed frustration with the less-lethal options currently available and hope the federal government will invest in the research and development of new tools and technologies.

Drones: Several respondents mentioned drones as an option in situations such as search and rescue, monitoring civil unrest and peaceful protests, surveilling a location during a standoff, hazardous situations, and accident investigation and reconstruction. Respondents noted that drones can improve the speed of the response and the safety of officers. They are looking for federal support for drone technology development as well as acquisition by local agencies.

Records Management Systems (RMS): Respondents stressed the importance of RMS for quickly finding historical information about a location, person, or event. RMSs also support transparency, as they make it easier for agencies to produce timely reports that can be shared with the community. Sophisticated RMSs can be expensive and beyond the reach of some agencies.

Gunshot Detection Technology: Several respondents noted that gun violence is a growing concern in their jurisdictions, and they believe they would benefit from gunshot detection technology to alert them immediately if there is a shooting. Again, funding to acquire the technology is not available in many agencies.

Other Themes:  PERF members also said they would like federal funding for the following:

  • DNA evidence review
  • Early Warning Systems
  • Officer wellness systems
  • Facial recognition technology
  • National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) access, training, and support.


Question 4: If you would like to see federal funding for training, what training topics are you most interested in?

Top responses included the following:

De-escalation: De-escalation training was the most common type of training cited, with more than half of the respondents saying they would appreciate federal funding to help pay for it. Respondents said that given the current climate of increased protests and distrust of police, police departments are looking for new, innovative ways to reduce use of force and find less lethal means of handling crisis situations. Several respondents specifically mentioned ICAT training and are looking for increased funding to implement it and other types of de-escalation training.

Bias-Free Policing/Community Engagement:  Survey respondents would like to see funding that supports training focused on bias-free policing, cultural diversity, and community engagement. Many emphasized the need for this training at all levels, from patrol to leadership, rather than focusing only on community policing divisions. Respondents see the need for improved community policing services and better training on how to build more productive interactions with diverse communities.

Mental Health CallsRespondents called for funding for specialized training in responding to mental health crisis calls.  Some said that this type of training should be mandatory among all officers. Many respondents are asking for training that includes third parties, such as mental health professionals who can partner with officers on these types of calls.

Officer Safety and Wellness: Given the many challenges that police officers are facing and the negative public perceptions of the police in some neighborhoods, respondents called for additional officer wellness training. This includes specialized training in the areas of resiliency, depression, PTSD, and suicide prevention. Some discussed the need for mental health training to begin at the academy level and continue throughout an officer’s career.

Academy Training: Many respondents expressed a general need for improved academy training. Several called for more training about the recruitment process, to better identify individuals who possess the necessary characteristics that make a good officer.  Respondents also would like to see funding for improved and updated training techniques for new officers.

Several respondents said they would like to see a national police college, where training methods and content could be better standardized and evaluated.

In-Service Training Respondents also noted that training cannot stop after an officer graduates from the academy. Many said there needed to be support for training throughout an officer’s career, including supervisory instruction and executive leadership training focused on accountability.

Specialized Training:  Respondents called for training and technical assistance about how to build, implement, and sustain district-based crime intelligence centers such as the Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) or other localized real-time crime centers (RTCCs). Other specialized training needs identified by PERF members included evidence-based policing practices, crime analysis, Compstat, crime gun intelligence, and Crisis Intervention Teams.


See future Critical Issues Reports for additional survey results


The PERF Critical Issues Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting this work.