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Advancing Knowledge and Practice in Policing: A Longitudinal Platform for National Research

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $1,880,086)

Police leaders and researchers are frustrated by the lack of knowledge about police officers in America; the police organizations in which they work; and the effectiveness of programs, policies and practices. Hence, the current study proposes an unprecedented national research platform for advancing knowledge about police officers, agencies, and interventions. The defining characteristics of the platform include: (1) the collection of standardized longitudinal data on employees and organizations across a national sample of agencies; (2) the ability to drill down deeper than previous studies on key issues; and (3) the ability to support randomized experiments to test innovative training and operational initiatives. A national sample of agencies would be classified into three distinct tiers of data collection intensity'thus providing both national estimates and greater depth on topics of interest. This proposal calls for a demonstration of key components of the national research platform in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, three smaller jurisdictions, and a regional training academy that serves officers employed by several hundred agencies. At the core of the platform concept is a plan to follow the "career course" of police officers and supervisors. During the demonstration project, officer and supervisor self-reported behaviors and perceptions will be validated with survey data from peers, supervisors, community residents, and agency records. Tracking the "life course of agencies" is another key strength of the platform. This project will yield rich information on the dynamics that shape an organization's priorities, leadership style, performance, accountability systems, supervisory practices, police culture, street-level policing and other agency features. The platform provides a strong mechanism for the rigorous testing of innovations. The team will use experimental methods to evaluate innovative training provided to recruits and to supervisors. The project team will consist of the executives in each demonstration site and some of the leading police researchers in the field. The project will be housed centrally at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with field offices in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The demonstration project by itself will advance the field of policing and provide scientifically valid conclusions about new recruits, supervisors, organizations, and interventions.


The proposed continuation project has four primary objectives. First, the project will include a national probability sample of 100 law enforcement agencies with representative diversity in agency size, agency type, and region of the country. This sample will allow for generalizability of the findings to agencies serving populations between 25,000 and 500,000, which includes the majority of police departments nationwide. Second, the research team will administer two types of organizational surveys - employee surveys that will attempt to reach nearly all agency personnel and key person surveys that will attempt to reach individuals who can inform the research team about particular internal organizational capacities (e.g., leadership; police management and accountability; employee development and professionalism; and, innovation and evidence-based policing). Third, a public satisfaction survey (to be called the Police-Citizen Interaction Survey, PCIS) will be administered to measure the quality of police services in terms of procedural justice, victim sensitivity, and legitimacy in the project's sample of 100 police agencies. The organizational and PCIS surveys will be supplemented by Census, LEMAS, and UCR data. LEMAS data will be used to capture additional personnel and agency characteristics, while the 2010 Census and UCR data will provide additional community characteristics and agency performance indicators as reflected in local crime rates. Finally, the project will provide standardized feedback to all 100 agencies to help improve the functions of the agencies. nca/ncf

Date Created: September 15, 2008