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Building Bridges Between Police Researchers and Practitioners: Agents of Change in a Complex World

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
297 pages
This study of police practitioner-researcher partnerships focused on the prevalence of such partnerships in the United States and the factors that prevent or facilitate the development and sustainability of these partnerships.
A national survey found that the level of law enforcement agencies' participation in partnerships with researchers is low, with only 32 percent of responding agencies reporting participation in such partnerships. Among the partnerships that have occurred, formal short-term and long-term partnerships were less common, 18 percent and 10 percent, respectively. These formal partnerships correlated with the size of the agency and were more common among municipal police departments and State law enforcement agencies compared with county agencies. Agencies that reported they used information sources produced by the research community were more likely to engage in partnerships, particularly those agencies that reported using research information provided by the National Institute of Justice. The practitioner and researcher interviews provided important lessons and informal rules for engaging in successful partnerships. These can be grouped into three general areas. First, there are structural characteristics that partners must address, such as how the partnership will be supported, geographic proximity of partners, permanency of key participants, and the institutional responsibilities for both partners. Second, both parties must have values that orient them to partnership participation. The agency and its members must value the incorporation of research and involvement of outside researchers. This value must be perceived as sufficiently strong for both partners to change their current operations. The researcher must focus on the desire to assist rather than judge the law enforcement agency and have a shared stake. Third, both parties must effectively manage their interpersonal relationship. This involves the development of trust among the individuals involved in the partnership, which requires ongoing communication about the expectations, roles, and products of the partnership. 138 references and appended survey questionnaire, agency regions, practitioner interview guide, and researcher interview guide

Date Published: December 1, 2013