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Community Engagement

Public engagement with diverse American communities whose civil rights may be affected by Department activities is a priority for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). Our Community Engagement Section responds to community concerns and provides information on Department programs, activities, and issues. Our goal is to:

  • Communicate reliable information about federal programs and policies, including avenues for redress and complaints;
  • Obtain feedback about community concerns and on-the-ground impacts of Department activities, in order to incorporate into the policymaking process community ideas and issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties; and
  • Deepen channels of communication between communities and federal officials in order to facilitate solution of problems.

Community Roundtables

CRCL holds regular roundtable meetings among community leaders and federal, state, and local government officials.  These roundtables facilitate meetings with diverse American communities who feel their civil rights may be affected by DHS activities.  CRCL's roundtable meetings take place in the following cities across the country: Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; Tampa and Orlando, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; New York, New York; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.    

Map of Roundtable locations: Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Portland, Boston, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa, Houston

Young Leaders and Campus Engagement

As part of a broader campus engagement strategy, CRCL hosts a series of roundtables on security and liberty with young leaders from the American Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, and Middle Eastern communities. These roundtables have been held in Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, DC.

Consultation with Communities

In addition to regular roundtables, CRCL hosts a variety of events and activities with affected communities to hear their concerns and ideas for solutions. These events range from public town halls on current incidents or issues to focused meetings and listening sessions with targeted stakeholders to include religious leaders, recent immigrants, law enforcement, local government, disability groups, etc. As a result of these consultations, we have received valuable input on DHS policy and also developed products to facilitate communication with diverse communities; including a guide on appropriate terminology to use when describing the terrorist threat.

Incident Community Coordination Team

CRCL's Incident Community Coordination Team (ICCT) is the only tool of its kind available for rapid two-way communication between the federal government and impacted communities in the aftermath of a homeland security incident or emergency. The ICCT national call provides timely information to communities and allows them to provide feedback to senior government officials on:

  • reports allegations of hate crimes that must be investigated;
  • reactions or concerns to policies or enforcement actions taken by the government; and
  • feedback on how the government might be more effective in investigating terrorist acts.

International Engagement

CRCL is a key member of two intergovernmental groups between the U.S. and key European partners: the US-UK Joint Contact Group and the US-Germany Security Contact Group. CRCL officials have also presented on the Department’s engagement efforts at international conferences in Austria, Bosnia, Canada, Denmark, Kazakhstan, and Poland. CRCL has also participated in State Department-sponsored public diplomacy trips to Egypt, England, Germany, and Kyrgyzstan. As well, CRCL leads an annual community engagement/CVE exchange program, which pairs community stakeholders and local law enforcement in U.S. cities with their counterparts in Germany and Belgium.

Cultural Competency/Engagement Training

CRCL leads efforts to improve the cultural competency and awareness of Department personnel and has developed training resources on Sikh, Arab, and Muslim cultures, including the use of religious garments and articles. CRCL also facilitates a training program for federal, state, and local law enforcement, which works to improve communication, build trust, and encourage collaboration between officers and the communities they serve and protect. Training topics include effective policing without the use of ethnic or racial profiling and best practices in community outreach.

Posters on Common Muslim American Head Coverings, Common Sikh American Head Coverings, and the Sikh Kirpan

Religious and Cultural Needs

These training posters provide guidance to Department personnel on ways in which to screen, if needed, Muslim or Sikh individuals wearing various types of religious head coverings and Sikh individuals carrying a kirpan (ceremonial religious dagger).

On Common Ground

On Common Ground

This training DVD on Sikhism was created for law enforcement personnel by the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service in collaboration with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Guidance Regarding the Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers

Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers

This training on the Department of Justice (DOJ) racial profiling guidance was produced by the U.S. Secret Service and reiterates the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to race neutrality in law enforcement activities.

The First Three to Five Seconds

First Three to Five Seconds

This training, produced by the DOJ's Community Relations Service, introduces law enforcement officers to basic principles of the Arab American and Muslim American cultures.

Connect with CRCL

By Mail or Phone

Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
2707 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528-0190

Phone: 202-401-1474
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
TTY: 202-401-0470
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361
Fax: 202-401-4708

By Email


Last Updated: 02/02/2022
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