Creating a Seat at the Research Table

Guest Blogger: Sergeant Greg Stewart, Portland Police Bureau, Oregon

There is an ongoing debate about the role of data, research, and science in policing. While many officers believe that policing is an art, there is an increased call from the public, politicians, policing leaders, and others for the profession to become more data-driven and scientific. Both views have merit, but it is inarguable that with increased access to stops data, use of force data, big data, and social network analysis, as well as the growing traction of predictive policing and evidence-based policing, police work is becoming subject to the tools of science. Understanding and addressing this fact is essential if police officers are to help inform and steer the direction of research and the study of their profession.

Practitioner Research: Why Bother?

Currently, the majority of police research is about police, rather than for police. Research on police tends to emphasize the things police are doing right or what they are doing wrong. However, this type of research does not always tell police how to do things better. From mental health to homelessness, the police have inherited many of society’s problems. It’s time to start researching the solutions.

The lack of research conducted for police is a direct result of our profession’s hesitancy to engage in the research process. Without active police participation, researchers start by conducting research about policing, rather than research that will necessarily be relevant and useful to departments. Academia’s professional structure rewards the production of scientific articles over more accessible material, and officers lack incentives to value or pursue research as well, because research is not seen as integral to policing. This leads to a disconnect between the policing research and the policing profession.

By taking a seat at the research table, law enforcement can help shift the academic research focus to the immediate issues facing policing: issues such as how to accomplish de-escalation without a subject becoming violent, how best to police persons affected by mental illness, or how to conduct effective proactive crime reduction activities without harming community-police relations[i]. The policing field needs constructive, forward-looking research that addresses how to police better, as opposed to research that simply points out what is being done wrong.

From Theory to Practice

Having identified the need for greater police involvement in police research, the question remains: how will the profession accomplish this? In theory, the solution to this problem is easy: more training. In practice, however, this proves challenging. Very few agencies have sufficient training time or other resources to meet their current needs. Developing and maintaining the skill sets of both a researcher and police officers will be challenging. However, there are three main areas of focus that departments can pursue without overwhelming agency resources.

First, agencies should consider establishing and fostering relationships and formal research partnerships with existing police researchers. Developing these partnerships requires patience and clear communication about motivation, expectations, research interests, and research goals. Close partnerships allow for mentoring and skills transfer and help focus a research project to be relevant to departments, as well as academically rewarding for scholars. Such partnerships are challenging, but possible. There are resources available to support this work, such as the National Institute of Justice/International Association of Chiefs of Police guidebook: Establishing and Sustaining Law Enforcement Researcher Partnerships[ii]. Police agencies from Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and other cities have taken this route and have benefited.

Second, agencies should consider rethinking what constitutes training. Police training opportunities are almost entirely centered on traditional skills such as driving, tactics, shooting, as well as crisis intervention and community police relations. Agencies need to think creatively about how to train a portion of their personnel on research-oriented skills. My own agency has allowed me to partner with Portland State University on several projects. These projects have benefited the agency while allowing me to develop my skills as a researcher. It may seem odd to train an officer on research methods, but thirty years ago, so was the idea of training officers to focus on mental health.

Third, agencies should turn to state and national-level resources to support their efforts. The fragmented nature of policing in the United States—with 17,000 independent departments across the country—leaves many agencies without the resources to develop research and data analysis skills. At the national level, programs like the National Institute of Justice’s Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholars and Agencies programs, as well as the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Innovations Suite Fellows Academy, support officers and departments working to develop research and analytical skills. My own participation in both LEADS and the Strategies for Policing Innovations Academy has proven invaluable in terms of training and networking opportunities which would not otherwise have been available. My participation in the program was possible because my agency recognized the value of this training. Departments should leverage these trainings, officer development programs, and other resources.

At the state level, some Police Officer Standards and Training Boards have started to introduce this material through the use of supervisory classes. As officers advance in rank, there should be an increasing emphasis on understanding the research behind their work. In my state, Oregon’s Center for Policing Excellence has started such a training. Despite being relatively new, the Center is already helping advance policing in Oregon through programs such as the Oregon Knowledge Bank[iii]. Agencies should ask their state legislatures to support the growth of these programs.

The public’s expectations of police are expanding and the profession will grow to meet those demands. Research and data analysis skills are part of that growth. It’s no small task for officers and departments to develop research skills and implement evidence-based policing, but engaging in partnerships, rethinking training, and leveraging national and state resources can help facilitate this important process. It is my hope that law enforcement’s active participation in policing research will help guide and grow this research in a way that will make it relevant to officers and departments, thus providing greater benefit to the communities we serve.

[i] This research does exist, and is frequently conducted by former police turned researcher, but the quantity of such research is lacking.

[ii] Available at:

[iii] For more on the OKB see:

For more information on the Center for Police Research and Policy, please visit

Posted in Uncategorized

Critical Messaging Sheets: A Guide to Developing Messaging That Resonates

At the core of positive community-police relations is effective communication. While social media, enhanced mobile devices, and increased access to the internet have created new spaces in which to communicate, these technologies have also made the art of communication more complex—especially for law enforcement professionals. Law enforcement personnel are often expected to discuss and respond to sensitive topics with an unrivaled level of speed, transparency, and sensitivity.

Every day, agencies around the world rise to the challenge, but not without using up-to-date facts and strategically-structured language. Seeing the need for a single, online resource that brings together these elements, the IACP created messaging worksheets for its members. These worksheets contain information about a wide range of issues, suggestions on talking-points, and guidance on how to structure a message that’s effective.

Currently, worksheets are available on the following topics:

  • Asset Forfeiture
  • Community-Police Relations
  • Encryption/Going Dark
  • Firearms: Background Checks
  • Fire Arms Security, Training and Investigation
  • Marijuana Legalization and Traffic Safety
  • Mental Health Response
  • Naloxone
  • Reducing Incarceration
  • Use of Force
  • Use of Military Equipment

To access the worksheets, visit the Critical Issues Webpage or explore your topic of interest. Messaging worksheets are a member-only benefit.

Posted in IACP

No-Cost, Customized Technical Assistance: the CRI-TAC is Here to Help

Law enforcement agencies today face increasingly complex and persistent challenges. As a law enforcement executive, you work hard every day to rise to those challenges, and often there are no simple solutions. You are not alone. Others have been where you are, and they stand ready to help you develop solutions. This is where the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC), formed through a partnership between the IACP and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (the COPS Office), comes in.

The CRI-TAC provides a variety of services to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The CRI-TAC is focused on the concept of by the field, for the field. You receive assistance from the CRI-TAC’s cadre of subject matter experts, offering peer-to-peer consultation, training, planning, and more to help your agency reach the forefront of cutting-edge innovation and evidence-based practices.

Built to meet the diverse needs of law enforcement agencies, the CRI-TAC is:

  • Comprehensive. The CRI-TAC provides access to the combined experience and resources of the IACP and eight leading law enforcement organizations: Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, FBI National Academy Associates, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and National Tactical Officers Association.
  • Collaborative. The CRI-TAC is founded on the philosophy that local involvement and accountability ensure agencies can meet the needs and expectations of their communities.
  • Customized. The CRI-TAC knows that a policy or training that worked for one agency might not work for yours, so the CRI-TAC team will work with you to develop solutions tailored to your agency.

If you are interested in innovative and expert solutions, if you want to play an active role in the problem-solving process, and if you would like the opportunity to tailor a large variety of resources to your agency, then request assistance from the CRI-TAC today.

Requesting assistance from the CRI-TAC is as simple as clicking a button or sending an email. Visit the CRI-TAC website and click the “Request Technical Assistance” button, or simply email Tell us what makes your agency unique, such as size and location, and what your challenges are. The CRI-TAC team will focus on listening to you to develop a clear idea of your expectations, needs, and desired services. From there, they will work with you to develop an action plan and deliver the technical assistance solution you need.

Learn more about the CRI-TAC and request assistance on the CRI-TAC website, or email You can also call the IACP at 800.THE.IACP and ask to speak to one of the CRI-TAC staff.

Posted in IACP

The IACP/DuPont™ Kevlar® Survivors’ Club 2018 Update

The IACP/DuPont KEVLAR® Survivors’ Club® recognizes and honors those deserving who, as a result of wearing personal body armor, have survived red.jpga life-threatening or life-disabling incident. The Survivors’ Club mission is to reduce death and disability by encouraging increased wearing of personal body armor.

In the first half of 2018, the IACP and DuPont recognized four law enforcement officers as members of the IACP/DuPont  KEVLAR® Survivors’ Club® after surviving a life-threatening incident due to wearing their body armor.

Lieutenant Richard Gainer, Hampton, VA, Police Division

Lieuthamptonenant Gainer was on patrol duty when he was notified of the pursuit of two robbery suspects. When he reached the incident location he saw that the suspects were trying to enter a car. He attempted to arrest them, but in the struggle one suspect gained possession of Lieutenant Gainer’s firearm. The suspect began firing rounds, striking the chest area of Lieutenant Gainer’s vest at least once. The other responding officers arrived and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was subsequently hospitalized for his injuries. After Lieutenant Gainer finished coordinating the securing of two additional suspects he was transported to the hospital for blunt force trauma to his upper chest. He was later released.

Detective Tony Jones, St. Charles County, MO, Police Department

While working with the United States Marshall Service as a Task Force Officer, Detectiveblack Jones attempted to arrest a subject with an active felony warrant for assault and domestic violence. When the officers arrived, the subject attempted to flee and produced a pistol. He shot multiple times at Detective Jones and another officer. Detective Jones was hit in his front ballistic plate, which protected him from serious injury. The officers returned fire and ended the assault. Detective Jones sustained significant bruising to his ribs. He was later treated and released from a local hospital.

Officer Matthew Schaffran, Cranston, RI, Police Department

bOfficer Schaffran and another officer responded to a disturbance call. They checked the house and surrounding area for the subject, who appeared from the backyard and began walking towards the officers. The subject had concealed his hands, and when ordered to show compliance he attempted to engage the officers in a fight. The defendant’s mother also attacked the officers. During the scuffle, the subject repeatedly stabbed Officer Schaffran in the back with his concealed knife.  Officer Schaffran used highly effective closed hand compliance tactics to overpower the suspect, who was then placed in a cruiser. Officer Schaffran did not suffer any major injuries because his ballistic vest stopped any penetration of the knife. Officer Schaffran was treated for minor stab wounds before returning quickly to work.

Trooper Daniel Thayer, Michigan State Police Department

Trooper Thayer was serving a search warrant on a suspect involved in a cold case michhomicide investigation. The suspect was seen in a residence with a gun. The suspect shot and injured Trooper Thayer. One round went through the pistol grip portion of the buttstock of Trooper Thayer’s shotgun and severely lacerated his finger. Another round fired from the suspect’s rifle was stopped by Trooper Thayer’s complex coordinated attack vest. The round hit the loop fastener panel covering his front trauma plate, preventing serious harm. The suspect was killed in return fire.

To find out more about the IACP/Dupont™ Kevlar® Survivors’ Club®:



Posted in Awards

Why Sharing Data Matters to Your Agency and Community

Like many law enforcement agencies, the Ferndale, Michigan, Police Department (FPD) experienced a learning curve when it came to publishing open data. Open data is a term for any form of data that can be downloaded and manipulated by members of the public. For example, law enforcement agencies may share data about calls for service, traffic collisions, complaints, and assaults on officers. This data can be used to inform the community about public safety issues and empower them to assist with problem solving efforts. As the concept of publicly sharing law enforcement data becomes more prevalent in the United States and as a community of about 20,000 people in only five square miles, the FPD, a force of 38 officers, had to get creative in how they dedicated resources and manpower to the release of this data.

ferThe FPD was then approached by the University of Michigan with a proposal for collaboration. As part of the agreement, the University would provide students to work on the cleaning and publishing of data and the FPD would provide the data, along with the mechanism to publish it. FPD saw this as an opportunity to leverage the skills of these students, build relationships, and benefit the community.

Having decided to release some open data, FPD then had to decide what datasets to make publicly available. A community taskforce was convened that included residents, community groups, academic representatives, and other key stakeholders to select data topics. This helped FPD narrow in on the topics the community wanted to see released. FPD officers thought they knew what type of data the community would want to see, in particular FPD’s 10-year historical arrest data, but to their surprise, the community was less interested in arrest data and more interested in community engagement metrics and data about who the FPD officers were.

2Based on the information from the taskforce, the FPD releases traditional crime statistics such as arrests and calls for service, but additionally releases unique datasets based on the community’s interests. One of the most popular is a dataset with the number of and locations of FPD officers administering naloxone to those experiencing an opioid drug overdose. Not only has this dataset enlightened the community about how frequently naloxone treatments are being administered, but it has also been used as a resource for those seeking help for their loved ones. This dataset has become a reassurance to concerned friends and family members that FPD is doing its best to address the opioid epidemic as it takes form in Ferndale.

By putting in place a formal contract with the University of Michigan and continuing to leverage the skills of students, the FPD has ensured the longevity and success of the program. Additionally, the FPD now has access to the county open data initiative which can be used for various data modeling purposes. Given these resources, FPD’s only extra expense has been the time of the sergeant who manages the data release. While these exact resources may not be as readily available to all agencies, looking to neighboring agencies for assistance or county/state resources can often help alleviate some of the financial burden.

Data can provide a community a clearer picture about the true nature of policing and a better understanding of how and why agencies do what they do. Focusing on the type of data the community wants to see is one way to keep them engaged in the law enforcement agency.

For more information


This blog post is part of a series highlighting community understanding and respect of law enforcement. This project is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.


Posted in Community-Police Relations, Technology

Join IACP for the National First-Line Supervisor Training on Violence Against Women

The IACP is now accepting applications for its National First-Line Supervisor Training on Violence Against Women training, August 21-24, 2018 in Pittsburg, PA.

Guided by experts in law enforcement’s response to violence against women, supervisors will explore current approaches for responding to and investigating the crimes of violence against women, specifically domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and strangulation. The training is designed to develop mentoring, training, and leadership skills when responding to these crimes. Past participants consider it an effective and useful training that they could immediately use upon returning to their agency.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Assess current agency and officer efforts
  • Explore tools and resources to enhance response and investigations
  • Participate in a forum with colleagues to discuss solutions and strategies
  • Design practical action plans specific to agency needs

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67% of victims in the United States do not report their sexual assault to law enforcement, and 42% of domestic violence victims in the United States do not report to law enforcement. This training will provide agencies the tools they need to learn why reporting rates are low and how law enforcement can set out to change those numbers.

There is no attendance fee to attend this training. Travel and lodging are not provided. To learn more about the National Law Enforcement First-Line Supervisor Training on Violence Against Women and to apply for this training opportunity visit The deadline to apply is June 22, 2018.

For more information about law enforcement response to violence against women, including policies, training videos, checklists, and guidelines visit

Posted in IACP

Nominate an Officer for the 2018 IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award

On June 14, 2017, during the final practice for the 2017 Congressional Charity Baseball Game, a gunman opened fire from behind the third base dugout.

Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner of the United States Capitol Police had been providing dignitary protection for U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise that morning at the Alexandria, Virginia baseball field. The agents quickly identified the source of the gunshots and returned fire. Despite having been wounded, both agents continued engaging the gunman.

Minutes later, Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department Officers Kevin Jobe, Nicole Battaglia, and Alexander Jensen arrived. As Officer Jobe engaged the subject, Officer Battaglia directed the gunman’s attention away from the civilians and onto her cruiser, allowing Officer Jobe, Officer Jensen, and Special Agent Bailey to triangulate around the gunman.  By working together, they were able to take the gunman down, secure the baseball field, and allow medical personnel to help the injured.

About a year prior, Lieutenant Scott Smith of the Orlando, Florida, Police Department also saved lives through an incredible act of leadership and bravery. On the morning of June 12, 2016, Lieutenant Smith and his officers responded to an active shooter situation at Pulse Nightclub, where more than 300 patrons were enjoying “Latin Night”. Because of the echoing sounds of gunfire, Lieutenant Smith did not know where the suspect was, but entered the building anyway. As the first to enter the building, Lieutenant Smith led the search for the suspect, walking across a dance floor, which had not yet been secured. Lieutenant Scott and the officers located the suspect and engaged in a shootout, allowing responding officers to rescue patrons and employees who were still inside the club.

As Lieutenant Smith organized the officers within the club and directed the deployment of SWAT operators responding to help, the gunman held hostages in the bathroom. After a few tense hours, the gunman raised the stakes – threatening to strap bomb vests to hostages to blow up the entire building. Lieutenant Smith coordinated the breach of the building which saved additional hostages and flushed out the gunman, who immediately started firing at the SWAT operators. SWAT team members, including Lieutenant Smith, returned fire, killing the suspect.

The incredible stories of these officers exemplifies the true spirit of the IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award, an award that since 1966 has been recognizing officers around the world for outstanding achievement in law enforcement.  Finalists and nominees not only demonstrate valor, dedication, and perseverance, but they also represent the commendable efforts of law enforcement everywhere to increase and protect public safety.

If you know an officer who between July 14, 2017 and June 21, 2018 has demonstrated a level of excellence, nominate them for the 2018 IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award. Officers can be nominated for excellence in any police endeavor, including but not limited to: extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community relations, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs, and training efforts. All sworn, full-time police officers below the rank of chief are eligible.

To begin the nomination process, read the eligibility requirements, then download the Awards Submission Form. The deadline to nominate is Friday, June 22, 2018.

Posted in Annual Conference and Exposition, Awards, Leadership

IACP Voices Support for the FIRST STEP Act

Today, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) sent a letter to Congress in support of the FIRST STEP Act (S. 2795/H.R. 5682). The FIRST STEP Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and in the U.S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The FIRST STEP Act calls for more funding for federal prison programs and incentivizes prisoners to complete the programs in order to hopefully reduce the likelihood of inmates committing new crimes once released from prison.  At the same time the legislation provides additional safeguards to ensure that violent prisoners are not released and that community safety remains the top priority.

The bill passed the House by 360-59 on May 22. The legislation will now need to be considered by the Senate. To view a copy of IACP’s letter with more details on the bill, click here.

Posted in IACP

Moving the Needle on Evidence-Based Policing

By Jason Potts, Lieutenant, City of Vallejo Police Department

We can’t know if something works or not if we don’t test it. Yet many police departments keep policies and practices in place simply because that’s the way things have always been done. Law enforcement is deeply entrenched in tradition, but when it comes to work as high-stakes as policing, we need to substantiate what we’re doing with evidence. Pure dogma and tradition are not enough.

I have been thinking about data, research, and evidence as they apply to policing for the majority of my 17-year career, but it was really three years ago when I turned to evidence-based policing. In 2015, I became a Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholar—a National Institute of Justice program that works with mid-career law enforcement to encourage the adoption of data and research to inform law enforcement policies and practices. The LEADS Scholars program has been a way for me to meet like-minded people who are equally passionate about using evidence to inform our work in law enforcement and has sparked a lot of the evidence-based projects I’ve done.

ALPR Technology to Combat Auto Theft

The City of Vallejo, California, where I work, has one of the highest rates of auto theft for a city its size, with a population of about 120,000 people. Inspired by the LEADS program, in 2017 I began a research partnership with BetaGov, a nonprofit research organization that supports research projects that have on-the-ground impact. With BetaGov, I examined the effectiveness of automatic license plate readers (ALPR), with the goal to understand whether ALPR technology works as effectively as we thought. Specifically, I was interested in whether using ALPR technology can increase stolen vehicle recovery, affect officer behavior, and improve the ability of officers to detect stolen vehicles. At the end of the trial, our data confirmed that ALPR technology led to higher frequencies of vehicle recoveries and arrests.

The power of this project is its ability to be replicated, and the on-the-ground application of its results. This was not an out-of-reach, theory-heavy academic research project. The randomized control experiment I designed with BetaGov is simple and could easily be replicated in other departments. If this research can be accomplished in Vallejo—where we are short-staffed, face budget constraints, and have high levels of violence—anyone can do it. The larger the problems a department faces, the more helpful evidence-based research results will be. In Vallejo, we took on this project knowing that ALPR technology could potentially allow us to be more efficient in identifying automobiles linked to crimes and individuals who commit those crimes.

Progress Necessitates Change

I joke that police officers dislike two things: change and the way things are. Progress necessitates change, but change is always difficult, particularly in a field as rooted in tradition as policing. In pushing for officers and departments to embrace evidence-based policing, I’ve met everything from enthusiasm to disinterest to disdain. There’s a lot of vulnerability when fighting for evidence-based ideas that question entrenched police culture and tradition.

Starting out, my research was met with support from my Chief, but a general lack of interest. Over the years, interest has picked up. Recently, I started to receive the help and support of a crime analyst in the department. Running rigorous research projects such as randomized controlled trials and other evidence-based programs can be difficult, but at the end of the day, we hope these studies will yield results that will help us become more efficient and effective as a department.

As difficult as it can be to promote evidence-based policing, we’re not doing it alone. In early 2016, I joined the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing (ASEBP) as a co-founder, with the goal of encouraging the national movement towards evidence-based policing. It’s been a difficult road, but well worth it. ASEBP held its first conference in May 2017, has grown to more than 100 members, and our members have presented on the Society at multiple conferences, including the IACP Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA in October 2017. I’m proud of the work we have done, and hope ASEBP will continue to be a platform to move the conversation forward on evidence-based policing.

We’re seeing the needle slowly start to turn towards evidence-based policing, but the vast majority of policies and practices in U.S. police departments are still due to dogma, rather than data. As a profession, policing continues to evolve, but we have a long way to go. The medical field has come a long way from using bloodletting and leeches to cure ailments, but across any field, change is a slow and difficult process. Policing is still in its infancy for data evaluation, science, and research. My hope is that we can continue to shift our thinking from doing things the way they have always been done to evaluating the data in context while consistently looking for causality and evidence.

For more information on the Center for Police Research and Policy, please visit

Posted in Policy

Recently Published Policy Center Documents: Domestic Violence

Domestic violence victims come from every socioeconomic status, age, race, or religion and the acts of violence committed against them can range from psychological control to homicide. Worldwide estimates dictate that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime[1].

In responding to calls of domestic violence, the complexities of abuse often require a correspondingly multi-faceted response from law enforcement. Officers are tasked with removing the threatening person(s) and providing support for victims in familial situations that often involve children and/or extended family members. Additionally, factors like financial dependence or previous threats of bodily harm often tether a victim to his or her abuser, which may affect officers’ ability to glean information or cooperation from victims.

The IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center has recently published updated documents governing the development of agency domestic violence policies. In the Model Policy, Concepts & Issues Paper, and Need to Know one-pager, responses to domestic violence are mapped out from the moment a call is received to the follow-up that should be conducted once the officers leave the scene. Using these documents, agencies can ensure that domestic violence policies are victim-centered and trauma-informed.

Note: These documents are available exclusively to IACP Members. You must be logged into your IACP account to access the website. Your username is your email address on file. If you are unsure of your password, please click on the “Forgot Password” link to reset.  Not an IACP member? Visit and join today!

Visit the Policy Center for a listing of available Model Policies or contact the Policy Center directly at


Posted in Crime and Violence