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Research and Evaluation on Policing: A Letter to the Practitioner Community

Date Published
February 25, 2019

Dear Colleague:

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, is pleased to announce the release of a solicitation for proposals for Research and Evaluation on Policing. With this solicitation, NIJ seeks applications for funding for investigator-initiated, randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies of approaches to the challenges of policing in the United States that address the strategic priorities and objectives identified in NIJ’s Policing Strategic Research Plan, 2017-2022.

The intent of this letter is to alert the practitioner community that NIJ anticipates up to $3 million will be available in fiscal year 2019 to fund selected research, and to address key updates and requirements for this year’s solicitation.

NIJ is committed to helping researchers and practitioners collaborate to inform criminal justice research efforts. Researchers and practitioners have unique skills and perspectives that can benefit each other.  Practitioners provide researchers with a “real world” view of the issues faced by the practitioner agency sites. At the same time, researchers often give practitioners a broader view of procedures, pointing out patterns that may warrant improvement, and use data to develop solutions to common problems faced in practice.

Partnerships with researchers can directly help agencies better understand themselves and help illustrate how systematic evaluation can lead to better practices and services, while helping improve the field at large. Overall, work completed through a practitioner-researcher partnership can make criminal justice efforts more relevant and efficient. Work done under this solicitation will help develop evidence-based knowledge to advance police operations and practices to deliver policing services to communities more effectively and efficiently at the State, local, and tribal levels.

We encourage you to work with researchers to form such partnerships to apply under this solicitation. Typically, the research entity is the official applicant but your participation and cooperation are critical.

If you do partner with researchers on an application for funding under this solicitation, there are two requirements that we want to call your attention to: randomized controlled trials and data archiving.

NIJ will require the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. RCTs can help determine the effect of a program with the highest degree of certainty. Under RCTs, subjects (e.g., officers or beats) are randomly assigned to treatment and control groups to ensure that the control group is equivalent to the treatment group in composition, predispositions, and experiences. While this research model may be more difficult in designing for the researchers, we believe it is the best way to determine what can work in police agencies across the nation.

Making data available for future research — either to validate original findings or test a new hypothesis — is critical to develop evidence-based practices and advance science. This is the best way for researchers to reproduce results for a better understanding of the impact of the programs or practices within your jurisdiction.

If you partner with a research entity on an application, you will need to provide them with a letter of support that clearly demonstrates an understanding of the commitment that data provided through this project will be archived by the awardee in the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) at the conclusion of the award.  If the application is selected for funding, applicants will need a formal agreement with partnering agencies that includes provisions to meet the data archiving requirements of the award. In rare circumstances, for example, where a law may place restrictions on the archiving of agency data, NIJ may agree to a successful applicant creating and archiving an appropriate synthetic dataset. Those circumstances will be rare, decided by NIJ on a case-by-case basis, and will require extensive documentation and justification for exceptions to be made.

Download the solicitation. The solicitation can be found also at Grants.gov.

Application deadline: May 7, 2019

Thank you for your consideration in responding to this solicitation to advance the field of policing.

Date Created: February 25, 2019