Last month, DI Senior Research Associate Jesse Flint attended the first conference of the newly created American Society of Evidence Based Policing (ASEBP) in Phoenix, AZ. The conference hosted law enforcement officers from around the world with a focus on working police officers discussing how they have incorporated an evidence-based approach into their agencies. While attending, Jesse was able to discover which research and training needs would have the greatest impact on the policing community. Below, Jesse dives into the research areas that stood out as showing the greatest need.
The Cockroach Effect
A great deal is currently being accomplished in the area of hot spots policing in which data from crime statistics is analyzed to project where crime will occur. Law enforcement agencies can use these projections to intelligently deploy personnel. In general, statistic demonstrate that crime rates go down in areas where hot spots policing is being used. However, Luis Estaban Islas Bacilio, Chief of Planning for the National Commissioner of Security in Mexico, presented data to suggest that, at least for organized crime, there is a “cockroach effect” that occurs with hot spots policing. Specifically, when law enforcement puts focus on targeted areas in one municipality, crime in that area spreads to other municipalities in much the same way that cockroaches spread to other areas when a nest is attacked. US law enforcement is just starting to reach a point where crime statistics are openly shared across jurisdictions. To maximize crime reduction in the US, hot spots data will need to be examined across jurisdictions to predict not only where to deploy staff in the short term, but where to deploy staff in neighboring jurisdictions in the long term as crime spreads due to the cockroach effect.
Skill Decay for Law Enforcement Officers
Law Enforcement Officers engage in months of training in an academy setting just to reach a point where they can transition to on the job training. During the months of academy training, trainees gain a large number of skills in a compressed period of time with the assumption that these skills will continue to be practiced during on the job training. However, jurisdictions in lower crime areas do not present as many opportunities to practice skills during on the job training as higher crime areas, potentially putting trainees at risk of losing many of the skills learned in the academy. Law enforcement training processes need to develop a method to accurately predict on the job trainee skill decay in low crime jurisdictions so that recurrent training can be offered for those specific skills. By accurately predicting skill decay, trainees will have more targeted (and potentially less overall) recurrent training during the on the job training phase.
Training for New Academy Instructors
Often, new academy instructors do not have the benefit of a formal education on instructional best practices. This often leads to instructors that are not able to actively engage trainees. These instructors often resort to simply reading scripts from instructor guides or even just reading text off of slides that are presented to trainees. However, time and resources are not typically available to effectively transition the skills of formally educated master trainers to newer trainees. What is needed in this case is self-guided learning materials that allow trainers to prepare, practice, and assess skills to transition from novice to expert.
These are only highlights of the many research areas presented at the conference. With a new focus on evidence based policing, the US law enforcement community finds itself on the cusp of a research revolution in the industry.
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