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Research and Evaluation on Policing: A Letter to the Research 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 research 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. With his letter we also want to call your attention to specific aspects of this solicitation including practitioner partnerships, multidisciplinary research, randomized controlled trials, and data archiving.

Practitioner Partnerships

We are committed to helping researchers and practitioners collaborate to inform criminal justice research efforts. Researchers and practitioners both have unique skills and perspectives that can benefit each other and make for a more informed research initiative. 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. At the same time, researchers experience a "real world" view of the issues faced by the practitioner agency sites.

The ultimate goal of this solicitation is to 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. Despite differing paradigms, bringing these two worlds together is mutually beneficial, and work completed through a researcher-practitioner partnership can make criminal justice and academic efforts more relevant and efficient.

We strongly encourage you to enter partnerships with practitioner agencies.  If you do, keep in mind that applications proposing research involving partnerships with criminal justice or other agencies, are to include a strong letter of support, signed by an appropriate decision-making authority from each proposed partnering agency that clearly states an understanding of what their involvement entails and that their data will be archived.

Multidisciplinary Research

NIJ emphasizes the need to make investments in science through multidisciplinary research and evaluation efforts that feed into the ongoing development of programs and interventions to improve policing. This solicitation, along with the Policing Strategic Research Plan, supports multidisciplinary scholarship and practice that address the spectrum of issues in policing across in the United States, and encourages researchers from all disciplines working together and connecting areas of research that have not previously been connected.

Required Randomized Control Trials

Randomized control trials (RCTs) are a powerful tool for developing scientific evidence about what works. NIJ requires the use of RCTs in research proposals submitted in response to this solicitation as these can help determine the effectiveness of programs with the highest degree of certainty.

Data Archiving Requirements

Applications for this solicitation must include a letter of support signed by partnering agencies with acknowledgement 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 selected, 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.

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

David B. Muhlhausen
Director, National Institute of Justice

Date Created: February 25, 2019