Evidence-Based Policing is a Movement

By Meme Styles

Left to Right: Paulette Blanc, Chris Vallejo, Meme Styles

A Different Kind of Movement

A person’s most admirable ability is their capacity to drive social change. Throughout history, world-wide movements that promote good and awareness have been driven by passionate leaders and fed-up loyalists to the cause. Whether it was Women’s Suffrage, The Civil Rights Movement, The Gay Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, Resistance against Apartheid, or The Movement for Indigenous Rights, humanities unwillingness to accept the status quo and commitment to realizing a new-normal marked these efforts of advancement and positive reform.

As we acknowledge the results these world-changing social movements produced, I’d like to suggest that Evidence-Based (EB) Policing is also a movement.

The Evidence-Based Policing Movement, while not dripping in passion or heart-wrenching realities of mistreatment, systemic racism, or oppression, has taken on a life, philosophy and is quickly becoming a thing as it moves outside the ranks of the police department and into the minds and practice of community members, researchers, open databases, and activists. The EB Policing Movement is multifaceted, embracing a diverse culture of leadership to include Dr.

Renee Mitchell, Chief Jim Bueermann (ret), Lt. Chris Vallejo, Paulette Blanc (Measure), Eric Byrd (Measure), or Dr. Obed Magny.

What is Evidence-Based Policing and why is it important?

The College Of Policing says, “In an evidence-based policing approach, police officers and staff create, review and use the best available evidence to inform and challenge policies, practices and decisions.”[


A policing methodology controlled by proven testing is where we EB Activists want the system to go. Would you ever undergo a surgery that has never been proven to work, or allow a Doctor to do a procedure that has had no results of fixing a problem? Probably not. In this same way, a Law Enforcement Officer has the ability to take or preserve life in the matter of moments.

Testing and proving their actions and responses to people is the best way of ensuring professionalism in the practice of policing.

Rigorous testing and analysis may help officers too. We constantly hear reports of the mental toll that policing takes on those who choose the job, but what local evidence do we have that says this is true? Many believe that working long hours causes unnecessary pressure on police, but where is the data on this “fact?” Many agree that post-traumatic stress may set an officer on a lonely journey after responding from one traumatic event to another. What are police departments doing to address this, (and perhaps more importantly) and is it evidence-based?

For many agencies, officers are spending countless hours using Records Management Systems (RMS) that are archaic. Because of these old systems, officers have less time to be proactive in their daily shifts due to time and energy wasted in filtering through messy records. If there are software systems known to make police officers’ jobs easier (such as time saved writing reports), why wouldn’t most agencies take advantage of that? Through Evidence-Based Policing research, we are able to answer these questions and identify the most effective way to better serve all of the stakeholders.

Big Data & Community Policing.

Through the power of big data analysis, randomized control testing in the field, an increasingly robust body of experimentation, and our willingness to embrace it – the EB movement is quickly becoming a go-to solution for assessing best practices in policing.

My organization, MEASURE – A data-driven, public education nonprofit in Austin, Texas noticed a communication & networking gap between social justice advocates, local research institutions, law enforcement practitioners, technology experts, and the application of EB Policing. For better understanding as to how EB Policing can help them speak a common language and possibly spark innovative research design, we hold an annual conference and several workshops to bring all parties these together. So far we’ve held conferences and workshops in both Austin and Dallas, Texas with hopes of branching out to other cities in 2020.

The results of the Big Data & Community Policing conferences and workshops include:

  • A newly formed Evidence-Based Policing think-tank at the Austin Police Department.
  • Free training on mindfulness & de-escalation, performance measure development, EB Policing 101, Compstat360, records management and Community Policing for all participants.
  • The application of design-thinking to address community policing.
  • Relationship building between traditionally siloed groups.
  • Organizational connections for increased EB Policing studies.
  • The City of Austin’s mandate to create Evidence-Based Metrics to assess the local police department’s performance.

It’s Global.

 Australia & New Zealand:


Evidence-Based Policing unit trial may reduce the amount of prison time committed by a first-time offender by 62% over a year. Picture: Lincoln

 

 The UK:


The College of Policing funds a study to look to test “mindfulness” as a way to combat high stress and record numbers of sick days.

Making It Meaningful To Your Community.

Far too often biased data feeds the narrative about communities who are most impacted by potentially harmful and un-evaluated policies and procedures. MEASURE seeks to empower people impacted by substandard data and the related narrative by allowing the people to own the information gathered about them, and to tell their own story unabridged.

Evidence-Based Policing allows a unique space for community members to become an active partner in the process of community policing and science. By collecting data, applying research and rethinking old ways of doing things with your community, newly created insights may help rewrite the narrative.

Share Data

The collection and analysis of police data for social good has taken off in recent years. Organizations such as Data.World and the Texas Justice Initiative are demonstrating how open data can make a difference.

In 2016 President Obama launched the Police Data Initiative which urged department Chiefs across America to volunteer their data to an open portal. Several cities signed on allowing for data-driven community engagement.

Sharing data with your community is a best-practice as it relates to transparency and making information available to a broader audience. Be sure to show community members where the data is stored online, how to download it and allow opportunity for feedback about the collected and shared data points. Community members may suggest very useful data elements in which the department may have never thought of.

Partner With Non-Traditional Research Partners

Think outside the box when completing a grant for community policing. Instead of partnering with the local go-to researcher, choose to work alongside grassroots organizations, activists-led nonprofits, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s).

Data has a way of helping both police and community groups speak a common language. By reaching out to non-traditional research partners such as these, you have the opportunity to help provide financial resources to local under-resourced organizations and grow a pipeline of Black and Brown data collectors, interpreters, and community policing experts.

Connect with MEASURE.

MEASURE’s mission is to bridge divisions through data and public education in active partnership with local communities to address complex social problems.

MEASURE’s objective is to leverage quantitative and qualitative information, in the form of research and education, as a tool to bridge divisions and empower communities to address complex social problems. We ask impacted communities to become active participants in the process of changing the statistics.

MEASURE is available for research & public education partnerships, community surveys, facilitation, and consultation.

Contact us at: contact@measureaustin.com

About Me

Jameila “Meme” Styles is the founder and visionary behind MEASURE. As “chief volunteer,” Meme works with the board, leadership team, and community to further the MEASURE mission worldwide.

Ms. Styles holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, completing a Masters of Public Administration at American Military University and is certified in Performance Measurement through George Washington University College of Professional Studies.

Follow MEASURE on Twitter: @MeasureAustin

Follow Meme on Twitter: @memeofaustin

Well-Being and the Police Profession

I feel very privileged to be asked to write for the American Society. Having attended a couple of conferences in the States, and visited numerous PD’s I feel at least a little confident to have enough knowledge to give a view. Although ‘snapshots’ are not always helpful, with the right lens they can be incredibly insightful. What I can offer is to draw on 30 years of service as a UK cop, and a lifetime of caring, understanding, and experiencing life as a professional uniformed serviceman.

To provide some context, I now work for the College of Policing in the UK, as the lead for Wellbeing. Wellness, as I know you refer to it, is top of the agenda in the UK in many aspects of working life, not just policing. I am, however, focussed on the policing aspects and all that good officer (and civilian police department staff) wellness can bring to a community. I say community because they are the ultimate beneficiaries of us getting this right. Tired, bored, disgruntled, low-paid, and demoralised cops are not going to offer much of themselves; that is simple. What is slightly more complex, and often contentious, is how we battle against these psychologies. My work at the College is focussed on just that area.

If I begin with the elephant in the room. I have been astounded by the length of hours the US patrol officers work. Wherever I go with this debate, I find myself returning to what appears to be an engrained culture of non-stop work. I must say that I have seen no boundaries (in the US), with seemingly open-ended acceptance of the status quo. Simply put, this cannot be good for you. If you try to search any scholarly database for academic literature that makes a claim for a 70hrs + a week working schedule, I think you may find zero return? So, that said, how do you replace the extra dollars all these hours give you? That is the dilemma! What I can say is that this approach is gradually creeping into the UK police psyche also. But, as you may be aware, extra employ is not the norm in the UK police service, so this is largely achieved within the respected force areas. It being brought about by the simple equation that increasing workload and decreasing officer numbers results in only one thing. There is more than likely a mathematical equation model for this, but that is not my field so I won’t prospect! The outcome, however, is that we have overstretched cops trying to deliver a service designed for a considerably bigger workforce.

Having set the scene, we must now move on to looking at what we do about all of this, where can we make inroads to make life better for our people? Of course, I am going to propose that much of this can be improved by having better wellness interventions. I have always summarised three critical aspects, those being good effective leadership, a focus on personal resilience; and finally ensuring, as much as possible, that the working environment is such that we can lead a meaningful and purposeful life. That is, after all what we came to do, as they say! Policing, is at the very least, a vocation. Many see it as a calling and I have written about this also. I will pop some references at the end of the piece if you wish to read more about any of these aspects in further depth. However, I should give you a little insight into my thinking on these three areas.

First of all is the age-old issue of leadership. A Google search will leave you no better off I feel, but let me say this: for me, leadership is knowing enough about the people you lead to be able to spot when things are not right, seeing when your people are struggling, and have the knowledge, skills and ability to intervene both quickly and effectively. Simply put, it is about knowing yourself and how other people see you, knowing your staff, the people who work for you, and knowing your stuff, being operationally competent. All the other leadership skills can fall out of these three principle areas. My friend Terry Anderson has a superb book out called Every Officer Is A Leader, which is a digest of all you need to know about leadership within the context of policing.

The second area is personal resilience, which can be learned. The seminal work on this is by Southwick and Charnley, who developed a Resilience Prescription. Well worth a read if you get chance. This talks about Thinking Errors and concepts such as Bouncebackability, which suggests that we can consume trauma and hurt if we have enough in the tank. But be careful, everyone has a limit and I refer back to my leadership assertions that it is about others helping you along the way and spotting when you may be struggling.

My final area is that of creating the right working environment. Here I am talking about a multitude of things, from systems thinking to working relationships and engagement. To put simply I am suggesting we create a working environment in which officers can lead a meaningful and purposeful life. In essence this is why we all joined the police department isn’t it? If you take, for example the Engage for Success report, or Thriving at Work recently released in the UK, these points are well made out.

I will finish up by inviting you along to an IACP session on Psychological Risk Management I am doing in February 2019 in San Antonio, TX where I will speak about the journey of our UK Wellness program, which we call Oscar Kilo (OK). I will attempt, along with my colleague Andy Rhodes, the Chief with the unenviable task of landing all of this in the UK, about our journey from conception, gestation, and birth of the UK police Wellbeing Service. I will of course be tweeting about this, so you can follow that also if you wish.

I hope you have found this short blog interesting, and if you wish to read any of my work in more detail please find some references below. I will sign off by saying enjoy your time, in whatever capacity it may be, involved with this great occupation of policing and be careful out there!

Ian

 

Dr Ian Hesketh

FCMI (CMgr), FRSA, MSET (QTLS)
Wellbeing Lead

College of Policing
Leamington Road

Ryton-On-Dunsmore

Coventry UK

CV8 3EN
www.college.police.uk

Ian.Hesketh@college.pnn.police.uk
+44 (0) 7889 704370

@IanHesky

Oscar Kilo Website

Publications:

 

Managing Health and Wellbeing in the Public Sector: A Guide to Best Practice

 

Wellbeing at Work: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy

View of Education and Research for 21st Century Policing: Collaboration, Competition and Collusion

Canteen Culture: The Potential to use Social Media as Evidence in Policing

Measuring the People Fleet: General Analysis, Interventions and Needs

Wellbeing and Engagement in Policing: The Key to Unlocking Discretionary Effort? 

Leaveism at Work

Wellbeing, Austerity and Policing: Is it Worth Investing in Resilience Training?

Leaveism and Public Sector Reform: Will the Practice Continue?

 

 

 

 

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Policing

As the FTO coordinator of my former agency, I had the unfortunate responsibility of terminating employees who failed field training. I remember one instance where a very bright officer seriously struggled with all areas of human interactions and was eventually let go. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do during my career.

 

His shortcoming? He was a human robot with his interactions with victims, suspects, and coworkers. His machine-like behavior confused and often angered those who came in contact with him. More than once he heard, “why you clowning me man?” from suspects who believed his questioning style lacked respect.

 

When we conducted counseling sessions with him regarding his catatonic behavior, he kept asking where in the policy manual he was failing. He had a valid point; we didn’t have a policy about how to empathically listen to a victim. We didn’t have a policy on intelligently questioning a street wise criminal. We didn’t have Emotional Intelligence (EQ) training.

 

EQ has many definitions and includes the following common elements; understanding and controlling personal emotions and recognizing and influencing the emotions of others (Mayer, Salovey & Caruso, Goleman). Seems pretty basic but can be hard to implement on the streets, and in the interactions law enforcement leaders have with subordinates.

 

We are in the people business as law enforcement professionals. In today’s climate, police officers are being watched more than ever before in their interactions with the public. Police officers are held to a higher standard for a reason; policing is about EQ more than it is about tactical, policy and procedural knowledge.

 

Here are some examples where I’ve seen EQ in action;

 

  • Recent protest by anti-police elements where the officers were called every name in the book and still kept their composure.
  • Patrol officers replaced the bedding of a young child molestation victim who was upset her favorite cartoon character bedding needed to be booked as evidence. They purchased the same character bedding with their own funds.
  • An astute 9-1-1 dispatcher received a cryptic call about ordering a pizza. Instead of dismissing the caller as a prankster, he parlayed the “pizza order” into an actual call for domestic violence.
  • A sergeant observed an underperforming, yet very capable employee, spirally out of control. She did what every good supervisor should do; she set up a meeting between the two. The sergeant provided a few examples of the observed poor performance, and then simply asked, “What’s going on, this isn’t like you?” The tears flowed as a very personal and painful situation was conveyed to the sergeant.

 

Being the positive person that I am, I chose a few examples that highlight the benefits of EQ in action in policing. However, a quick internet search provides more examples of law enforcement professionals letting their emotions get the best of them. Their actions, usually caught on cell phone cameras, body worn cameras, or recorded 9-1-1 lines not only caused their own career demise, but diminished the community trust.

 

There is very little research on EQ in policing. Although there aren’t enough studies showing the benefits of EQ in the policing profession, there are many examples showing the benefits of emotional intelligence training across other professions. Studies on emotional intelligence show how vital it is to individual as well as organizational success. A study by Parke, Seo, and Sherf (2015) show employees can be trained to increase their EQ when working in difficult work environments, by regulating their emotions.

 

A cross sectional study at AT&T discovered employees high in EQ accounted for nearly 60% of job performance (Bradberry). Boyatzis, et al, examined the EQ levels of partners at a multinational consulting firm, and found partners high in EQ were responsible for $1.2 million more in profit than low EQ partners (which equated to a 139% gain in profit).

 

Examples like the one I just mentioned are simply a fraction of the different success stories companies have made by making EQ training a premium. From the prism of evidence-based policing, this level of training has the potential to be extremely beneficial for law enforcement organizations looking to make inroads in establishing trust with their communities. If we’re going to use an evidence-based approach to increase the legitimacy between the police and the public, EQ training must be mandatory in the process.

 

Can a person improve their EQ level? The answer is yes! While IQ is pretty much a fixed competency, EQ is flexible and can be improved (Chamorro-Premuzic, et al). There are several emotional intelligence assessments and training programs in the public space for agencies to utilize. EQ training should start at the academy and continue throughout an employee’s career.

 

About Dr. Goold

Dr. Michael Goold retired after 23 years of law enforcement service with the last three years a Chief of Police. He coaches individuals and agencies on emotional intelligence. In his spare time Michael competes in marathons, triathlons, and the Police Unity Tour.  Dr. Goold can be reached at michael@sitnasolutions.com

 

 

Emotional Intelligence Assessment Links

 

https://tap.mhs.com/EQi20.aspx

 

https://blueeq.com/take-the-blueeq/

 

https://www.mhs.com/MHS-Talent?prodname=msceit

The Curfew Myth How a ‘90s panic spawned an anti-crime measure that doesn’t make you safer.

It’s a summer ritual in many American cities—declaring a juvenile curfew to keep troublemaking teenagers off the streets. This summer at least one city—Austin—has decided not to sound the alarm.

“We looked at the evidence and decided it was time to discard the curfew law,” the Austin Police Department’s assistant chief, Troy Gay, told The Marshall Project. “It wasn’t making an impact on juvenile victimization.” The evidence was a report drafted by a consortium of community groups that banded together to challenge Austin’s curfew law in 2017. Police Chief Brian Manley was persuaded and asked the City Council to rescind the law.

Juvenile curfew laws are ubiquitous and deeply entrenched. By 2009, 84% of cities with populations greater than 180,000 had enacted curfew laws. They remain an alarmist staple in communities across the country.

A voluminous body of research has cast strong doubts on the claims that juvenile curfew laws prevent victimization or reduce juvenile crime, but these findings have received scant attention from policymakers or police.

A systematic review of research literature on juvenile curfew programs was published in 2016 by the Campbell Collaboration, a nonprofit that synthesizes research studies for policy-makers. Campbell examined over 7,000 studies on juvenile curfews and synthesized the 12 most rigorous studies.

As the report stated, “evidence suggests that juvenile curfews are ineffective at reducing crime and victimization. The average effect on juvenile crime during curfew hours was slightly positive — that is a slight increase in crime — and close to zero for crime during all hours. Similarly, juvenile victimization also appeared unaffected by the imposition of a curfew ordinance.”

Why are juvenile curfew laws ineffective? The studies found that they damage already-strained relationships between police and youth of color and in some instances have “blowback” effects, increasing juvenile victimization or overall crime.

Another factor is that on empty streets there are no witnesses. Urban activist Jane Jacobs theorized that well-populated streets are safe streets; deserted streets invite crime.

A study published in 2015 tested the effect of Washington D.C.’s juvenile curfew on gun violence. Using ShotSpotter audio sensor data, the authors found that gunfire incidents were significantly more frequent when the curfew was in effect.

Many argue that continuing curfew laws in the name of juvenile crime reduction is draconian, in light of actual crime data showing juvenile crime rates are at all-time lows.

Dr. Mike Males, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Research told TMP that crime rates are lower for juveniles than for adults in their 40s or 50s.

The use of juvenile curfew laws soared in the mid-1990s at the urging of the Clinton administration. The “tough-on-juvenile crime” stance was a product of Princeton Professor John DiIulio’s “super-predator” theory; in 1995, he warned that unless decisive action was taken, the next 10 years may “unleash an army of young male predatory street criminals.”

The result was an abrupt shift in laws, encouraging prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults and urging municipalities to enforce curfews.

It turned out the super-predator theory was terribly wrong. Juvenile crime in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s soared, fueled by the crack epidemic and, perhaps, the effects of lead poisoning on inner-city children, but then dropped precipitously. DiIulio’s army of  “homicidal juveniles” never materialized.

Juvenile justice advocates and community groups have been working tirelessly to reverse “tough-on-juveniles” policies created in response to the prophesized super-predators. They have made some headway in reducing juvenile incarceration rates, with DiIulio himself signing an amicus brief in 2012, petitioning to end life sentences for juveniles.

The same can’t be said for curfew laws.

Males contends that police and politicians continue using curfew laws because “juveniles are a politically powerless population, so they are an easy group to target and blame for any crime concerns in an area.”

Since the rescission of Austin’s juvenile crime law, juvenile victimization has decreased by 12 percent, officials say. Though it may be too soon to draw conclusions, Gay says Austin’s “youth aren’t hiding from the police anymore, in places they weren’t supposed to be. Now they can be in a public place and not fear the police, and maybe that makes everyone safer.”

 

Ivonne Roman, a captain in the Newark (N.J.) Police Department and board member of the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing wrote this article while working as a journalism intern at The Marshall Project.

 

The Role of Theory in Evidence-Based Policing

September 10, 2018

 

by Joel M. Caplan, PhD

Associate Professor, Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice

Deputy Director, Rutgers Center on Public Security

 

Theory is to evidence-based policing (EBP) as water is to shoreline. They help define each other. Theories shape evidence-based practices, and newly tested practices help to advance theories. A spectrum of theories from criminology, ecology, psychology, geography, sociology and economics, are commonly used to craft research, experiments, and data analyses for police agencies; and policing initiatives are routinely helping to validate and advance theories. Theories are ‘translational’ in that they’re renderings of scientific discoveries synthesized into sets of expectations about phenomena that police can consider for policies or practices. According to psychologists Tversky and Kahneman, the job of decision makers is not always to be right, but to figure out the odds in any decision they have to make and play the odds well[1]. Theory guides these decisions.

 

A theory is a supposition or a set of ideas intended to explain something. Theories arise from repeated and independent testing of hypotheses, in different settings, over time, whereby sets of principles emerge when similar research findings appear. Theories are testable, and may be proven wrong. But a theory is distinct from a hypothesis. Theory is derived from numerous sources of evidence and academic study. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. In the realm of policing, if a theory is ‘clear and convincing evidence’, then a hypothesis is ‘reasonable suspicion’.

 

For EBP:

  • Theory safeguards against arbitrary decision-making.
  • Theory offers guidance about which variables to include or control for in analyses, and how to make results actionable.
  • Theory enhances accountability and helps share the burden of crime prevention among multiple agencies and stakeholders.
  • Theory adds context and meaning to data and helps to answer why and in what situations results matter.
  • Theory can guide the coordination of multiple intervention programs at once, and help to anticipate unwanted side effects.
  • Theory helps explain human behavior and, thus, crime events and patterns.
  • Theory guides innovative and creative solutions to problems.

 

Big data and sophisticated technologies do not guarantee easier or more certain decisions for police. With a growing reliance on fusion centers, real-time crime centers, and software to manage, analyze and communicate data, there’s a danger of thinking that numbers will speak for themselves[2]. The opposite is true. Theory plays a crucial role in decisions about what datasets or variables to include in statistical analyses, how they might interact, what could confound, mediate or moderate results, what the results mean, and so on[3]. Without a theoretical framework, analysts can be distracted from critical decisions they must make[4]. According to Wise and Shaffer[5] theory is a tool to safeguard against arbitrary decision-making “by providing a coherent and reasoned framework” from which to act. Theory enables actionable results.

 

Policing has witnessed the consequences of poorly woven analysis, theory, and responsive actions. Notable examples include activities performed at crime hot spots that are solely offender-focused and, thus, disconnected with the ecological theories and spatial analyses that informed the place-based deployments. Although hot spots policing is sometimes coupled with Broken Windows Theory, the operational practices often implemented for crime prevention (such as stop, question, frisk) are detached from the root spatial causes, attractors, or generators of illegal behaviors (e.g., the actual broken windows) and instead focus reactively on offenders (i.e., without fixing the actual broken windows). A result is that hot spots persist and appear resilient over time, despite the many foot patrols, arrests or citations utilized there. As was recently questioned in The New Yorker “What if vacant property received the attention that, for decades, has been showered on petty crime?” Police can use theory to engage non-police stakeholders and justify sharing the burden of crime prevention with coordinated activities at the most vulnerable places.

 

Police who ask ‘where’ should also ask ‘why’. Theory provides a framework for explaining results, and for elucidating why and in what contexts the results matter[6]. Theory can help police prescribe responses to existing crime problems or emerging threats, and also to understand the impacts that their presence at targeted areas will have on risk calculations of people located nearby. Routine Activities, Rational Choice and Deterrence theories might come to mind. But so could Crime Pattern Theory or the Theory of Risky Places because the police are integral features of the environmental backcloths they patrol. Their movements add to its spatial dynamics, with varying levels of guardianship and vulnerability throughout the jurisdiction at any given moment in time. In fact, frequent directed patrols at particular target areas may inadvertently become expected or predictable qualities of spaces that motivated offenders adapt to[7] [8] if theory is not used to inform matters of timing, frequency and saturation.

 

EBP needs ongoing, continued impact. It could prosper from theoretically informed adoptions of newly proven practices that are phased in and out at the right times to optimize their crime prevention benefits with sustained impacts. Theory can guide the coordination and complementarity of multiple intervention programs at once, and serve as a barometer for balancing variety, intensity and timing of crime prevention programing.

 

Crime is an outcome of behavior. Theories help explain human behavior. A meta-analysis[9] of 11 intervention programs reported that decreases in crime relate not only to the offender-centric strategies but also to steps taken to modify the environments in which they operate. This finding complements criminological and psychological theories that reveal how environments influence behavior[10]. For example, environmental psychology[11] suggests that situationally-induced emotions can provoke a criminal response among both rational or irrational people. If people commit illegal behavior enough in the same setting, the physical environment (itself) can shape the subsequent human behavior (even unconsciously)[12]. The Theory of Risky Places (TRP) offers a way of modeling crime-prone settings for situational crime prevention. It assists in recognizing patterns of crime attractors that appear in the landscape, accounting for spatial relationships of environmental features that change over time. Police departments such as in Atlantic City have operationalized TRP to activities aimed at disrupting key ‘crime risk narratives’ through planned changes to the environment, including strategically allocated vehicle, bicycle and foot patrols. Violent crimes decreased 36% and the benefits have been sustained for well over 18 months to-date[13].

 

EBP isn’t merely about ingesting published research. It’s more than just methods and results. It’s about police agencies challenging themselves to turn theories into practice and then measure outcomes. Theoretical frameworks inform thinking behind new or innovative trials, the decisions that are made during a tour of duty, and how translations of empirical research provide new directions for operational practices[14]. Marcia Finlayson[15] summarized it well: “Theory defines and sets parameters on the way we think, what we focus on, and how we interpret what we see.”

 

Theories offer a check on our assumptions or preconceived notions. They shape evidence-based practices, and vice-versa. Theories help to move policing forward.

 

[1] Lewis, M. (2016). The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds. W. W. Norton & Company: NYC, p248

[2] Wise, A. F. and Shaffer, D. W. (2015). Why theory matters more than ever in the age of big data. Journal of Learning Analytics, 2(2), 5-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.18608/jla.2015.22.2

[3] Wise & Shaffer, 2015

[4] Wise & Shaffer, 2015; Leek, J. T., & Peng, R. D. (2015). Statistics: p values are just the tip of the iceberg. Nature, 520, 612. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/520612a

[5]  Wise & Shaffer, 2015, p 6

[6] Wise & Shaffer, 2015

[7] See Chapter 4: Caplan, J.M. & Kennedy, L. W. (2016). Risk Terrain Modeling. Crime Predictions and isk Reduction. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520282933

[8] This may also be relevant for ‘patrols’ via CCTV cameras. See: Piza, E. L., Caplan, J. M., & Kennedy, L. W. (2017). CCTV as a Tool for Early Police Intervention: Preliminary Lessons from Nine Case Studies. Security Journal. 30, 247-265.

[9] Braga, Anthony A., and David Weisburd. 2010. Policing Problem Places: Crime Hot Spots and Effective Prevention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

[10] Louiselli, J. K., & Cameron, M. J. (Eds.). (1998). Antecedent control: Innovative approaches to behavioral support. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing. –and– Kennedy, L. W. and Forde, D. R. (1998). When push comes to shove: A routine conflict approach to violence. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

[11] It is concerned with the effects of the natural and built environment on human behavior.

[12]  Spiegel, A. (2015, January 5). What heroin addiction tells us about changing bad habits. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/05/371894919/what-heroin-addiction-tells-us-about-changing-bad-habits

[13] For the full report, see http://www.rutgerscps.org/uploads/2/7/3/7/27370595/acpd_rbpinitiative_2017report.pdf

[14] Finlayson, M. (2007). Why theory matters. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(4), 291-291. https://doi.org/10.1177/000841740707400401

[15] (Finlayson, 2007, p 291)