David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D.
Thank you! Let me start with that because the real message here is one of thanks for what you do for your communities and the nation.
There is a lot that I would like to share about how NIJ can support your agency.
Keeping you safe…
At NIJ, we never lose sight of the fact that police work is inherently dangerous. Officers face a constant threat of injury or even death when they confront suspects or respond to dangerous situations. One hundred and twenty-eight law enforcement officers lost their lives in the line of duty last year. We will take time this week to honor them and remember their sacrifice.
Every year, law enforcement officers are saved by body armor that have been tested against the NIJ Standard. We are proud to be known for our body armor standards and testing programs and the continuous improvements we are making to those programs.
We are equally as proud of all the other work we have done to help keep officers safe. For decades, NIJ has partnered with law enforcement and other first responder agencies to increase safety. In 2016 we published the Safety, Health, and Wellness Strategic Research Plan, which describes our current and future efforts to promote the safety, health, and wellness of officers and other individuals working in or affected by the criminal justice system.
We also have published a Policing Strategic Research Plan that addresses workforce development, policing strategies, and the relationship between policing and communities.
Listening to you…
Improving our ability to understand and respond to crime and justice challenges begins with listening to the field. We regularly engage with criminal justice professionals and researchers. We want to learn from your unique expertise and gather information on the knowledge, tools, and resources that you need to reduce crime and advance justice.
We gather input about crime-fighting successes, failures, and needs directly from practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. This valuable input helps guide our research investments, capacity enhancement programs, and standards development. We want to hear what you think, and we are always looking for ways to improve our communication with the field.
Giving you a voice…
In my time as NIJ Director, I've made it a point to speak face to face with as many of you as I can. One of the most important things I have heard throughout these conversations is that you need timely information to help develop your responses to emerging issues — and can't always wait years for research results to be published.
With this in mind, I am excited to announce the launch of the new NIJ publication series Notes From the Field. This series of articles discusses innovative approaches to critical issues affecting police departments across the country. We have already had contributions from law enforcement executives and other on-the-ground leaders who have shared some of the most important lessons they have learned regarding civil disturbances and addressing the opioid crisis.
Providing you the evidence you crave to better protect and serve…
I know that most of you face budgetary and staffing constraints along with pressure from the communities you serve to continue providing them with safe streets and neighborhoods.
You can't afford to continue programs and practices that aren't effective. From my meetings so far, I know that you crave evidence on what works and what doesn't.
Evidence and research are core to all of NIJ's work. We will continue to promote the use of evidence and invest in rigorous research to answer important questions in the criminal justice field. We will also continue to fund evaluations to learn whether criminal justice programs are effective, and work to translate research results into practice.
One way we do this is through CrimeSolutions.gov, which provides a systematic, independent review process and evidence ratings of justice programs to answer the question: Does it work?
You can use CrimeSolutions.gov to improve your effectiveness by:
- Familiarizing yourself with evaluated and rated programs and practices in your field.
- Replicating a program or practice.
- Adapting a program or practice.
Building your capacity for research within your agency...
Law enforcement agencies are staffed with doers. We know you don't want to just sit around and wait for someone to give you answers, but we also know that doing research can be daunting.
We've found a way to help with that.
The Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Programs are designed to increase the research capabilities of law enforcement officers and agencies. We are focused on empowering you to integrate research into policies and practices. The LEADS Scholars Program advances evidence-based policing by supporting the development of research-minded law enforcement personnel. The LEADS Agencies Program complements the Scholars Program by strengthening the capacity of police organizations to identify and answer their own research questions.
I started by saying — thank you — and will end with that sentiment as well. National Police Week is a wonderful opportunity to honor the work you do and remember those who have sacrificed so much.
So again, thank you!