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Perspectives on Research and Evidence-Based Policing


Every year, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) supports 30 midcareer, research-minded law enforcement professionals to take part in professional development and travel opportunities, network, and contribute to the policing and research communities through the Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholars program. The LEADS scholars are both practitioners and researchers. They work in the field while simultaneously striving to evaluate and improve the work done in their departments. At NIJ, we call them “pracademics.” They embody NIJ’s goal of delivering rigorous and thoughtful police science to the field.

This year, we have partnered with RAND Corporation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the Police Executive Research Forum to build a stronger program for our LEADS scholars. For the first time, we have also invited researchers and crime analysts to join the LEADS Initiative with new LEADS Academics and LEADS Civilians programs.

Through these programs, NIJ aims to expand the field’s understanding and use of evidence-based policing (EBP). EBP employs data and research to improve police practice by rooting strategies, policies, and programs in strong evidence. This approach creates a solid foundation for policing agencies and has been demonstrated to create better outcomes for officers, agencies, and communities. Our LEADS scholars, academics, civilians, and alumni are all committed to sharing EBP with their colleagues and peers.

Perspectives on Research and Evidence-Based Policing collects the writings of LEADS scholars to demonstrate the impact of EBP across individual agencies. LEADS scholars are encouraged to implement and advocate for evidence-based policies and practices in their departments. Their enthusiasm for using data to drive practice is apparent in the research they conduct and the writing they produce.

Current and former LEADS scholars champion EBP in a variety of formats in this anthology. Capt. Tara Coffey discusses the importance of implementing EBP. Capt. Ken Clary demonstrates the need to diversify the field and include more women in law enforcement. Officer Luke Bonkiewicz, Capt. Jason Potts, and Sgt. James Williams describe direct implementation of EBP in their agencies. Together, they illustrate the broad applications of EBP across the field.

With a foreword by Chief Michael Brown of the Alexandria (VA) Police Department — a leader both in practice and in academia as the chair of IACP’s Research Advisory Committee — Perspectives on Research and Evidence-Based Policing paves the way for better understanding and integration of science and evidence in law enforcement. NIJ hopes this anthology will empower the policing community to ask questions and seek answers rooted in scientific evidence.

David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Justice