COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Last month, Columbus City Council approved more than $90,000 to fund the Columbus Police Dialogue Team.

Now, the community is learning how that money will be spent: funding a research initiative aimed at enhancing crowd management techniques between Columbus police and the community.

The project, Enable Columbus, is heavily focused on the dialogue team, formed in large part due to the protests held after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Phase one of the project is about gathering evidence to support the notion that a conversation-based crowd management strategy works and protects the First Amendment rights of citizens. 

Professor Clifford Stott is a crowd psychology expert from the United Kingdom and is helping lead the study. He says ultimately, it comes down to relationships.

“Part of the solution that we help police organizations to develop is how to engage into crowds, how to build relationships with people in crowds,” Stott, who is a researcher with Keele University, said. “And that’s not about enforcement. First off, it’s about trust and confidence. It’s about ensuring that the police force is working to facilitate those rights and build the view in the crowd that the actions of the police are legitimate.”

Stott said they hope to have phase one of the project wrapped up later this year. The plan for phase two is to have evidence showing these strategies work and then share it with other agencies.