California Department of Justice, Commission on Peace Officer Training
SAFE Driving Research

California Department of Justice

(From Left to Right: Bryon G. Gustafson, Senior Law Enforcement Consultant, CalPOST; Laurie Robinson, Research Advisory Co-Chair, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of George Mason University; Paul Cappitelli, Executive Director, CalPOST)

Nationally—each year for 13 of the last 14 years—traffic collisions take more lives and end more careers for Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) than any other event—felonious or accidental. LEO traffic deaths are estimated to cost the federal, state, and local governments more than $100,000,000 annually. The majority of all LEO traffic collisions are avoidable and result from preventable errors. CalPOST’s SAFE (Situation-Appropriate, Focused, and Educated) Driving Campaign is aimed at saving lives and limiting costs by reducing the overall number of law enforcement traffic collisions. The Campaign is guided by a diverse group of practitioner stakeholders from throughout the nation working with a team of top researchers from institutions across the country to investigate error causes and interventions in law enforcement agencies.

CalPOST’s SAFE Driving Research began in October 2007 and is an iterative process. Interventions are tested as soon as they are developed and multiple research inquiries are underway at any given time. The practitioners and researchers meet twice each year to share results of interventions, review findings from research, and develop next steps for the Campaign. This process has facilitated a synergistic relationship wherein research informs practice, and lessons from practice guide research.

Officer-involved traffic collisions are being investigated both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to determine the risk and benefit of operational and training policies and procedures. CalPOST’s current research investigations are exploring effects of fatigue and distraction, agency culture, and training and demographics on collision rates. Findings provide empirically-validated policy and training options for law enforcement leaders nationwide. This data-driven model allows for local customization and will result in a national impact with the goal (and expectation) of saving 9 lives and $16,000,000 annually by 2015—a 15% improvement.

SAFE Driving is CalPOST’s top organizational priority. Scores of law enforcement agencies and five universities are currently involved in this research effort. To date, CalPOST has independently committed more than $1,000,000 for research funding. In addition to state and local government stakeholders from California, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New York, and Florida, CalPOST has also involved numerous federal/national stakeholders including the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in this collaborative undertaking.

CalPOST’s SAFE Driving Research unites practice and scholarship for the betterment of law enforcement nationwide. It is solution-oriented and committed to long-term investment in law enforcement traffic safety. CalPOST actively seeks to make its findings available free of charge to all interested stakeholders worldwide. A first-ever SAFE Driving Symposium is set for October 2012 in San Diego, CA where research findings and practical training and policy interventions will be shared with the law enforcement community at large.

Project Leader: Bryon G. Gustafson
Phone Number: (916) 227-4896
Email Address: Bryon.Gustafson@post.ca.gov

Sacramento Police Department Hot Spot Randomized Control

Sacramento Police Department

(From Left to Right: Ken Bernard, Captain, SPD; Laurie Robinson, Research Advisory Co-Chair, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of George Mason University; Renée J. Mitchell, Sergeant, SPD; Rick Braziel, Chief, SPD)

Research questions on police methods have traditionally been raised, tested and evaluated by academics. In this randomized control trial the research team was not comprised of academics but practitioners. On February 8, 2011 The Sacramento Police Department implemented a randomized control trial designed to answer the question “Will visiting hot spots for 12 – 16 minute increments reduce crime and calls for service in Sacramento?” The 90-day study tested the “Koper curve” theory and was completely designed, implemented and analyzed by personnel within the SPD with the guidance of researchers from George Mason University. While running a randomized control trial within an organization is not innovative on the surface, this particular study was conducted solely with departmental staffing, without outside funding and for the purposes of rigorously evaluating internal agency strategy. This agency-led scientific approach to cost-benefit analysis of police resources is the first of its kind in the United States.

The article outlining the study has been submitted to Justice Quarterly. The same article written by Cody Telep, Sergeant Renée Mitchell and David Weisburd has won the best student paper award from the American Society of Criminology. Sergeant Mitchell has presented the results of the study at the George Mason Symposium on Evidence Based Crime Police Symposium at the Academy of Criminal Justice Science conference, and the Jerry Lee Crime Prevention

Symposium in order to demonstrate the ease of replication and applicability of the study to other police agencies. Over twenty other police agencies have sought assistance from SPD to set up their own testing of hot spot police practices within their agencies.

Project Leader: Renée Mitchell
Phone Number: (916) 628-4055
Email Address: rjmitchell@pd.cityofsacramento.org

Prince William County Police Department Implementation Analysis & Formal Evaluation Study for the Prince William County Illegal Immigration Enforcement Policy

Prince William County

(From Left to Right: Dr. Thomas Guterbock, Sociologist, Director of the Center for Survey Research, University of Virginia; Thomas Pulaski, Director of Financial and Technical Services, PWCoPD; Shana Hrubes, First Sergeant, PWCoPD; Steve Hudson, Assistant Chief of Police, PWCoPD; Steve Thompson, Captain, PWCoPD)

The use of ‘best practices’ and the employ of quality research are stalwart organizational priorities for the Prince William County Police Department. The Department’s philosophical commitment to professionalism, integrity, and credibility are exemplified by its achievement of voluntary international accreditations in Law Enforcement, Training, Public Safety Communications and Forensics (awarded by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), respectively). The Department also considers knowledge, experience, and collaboration to be key elements of strength in its pledge to maintain law enforcement excellence.

On July 10, 2007, the Police Department was faced with an unprecedented challenge. On this date, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) passed one of the most aggressive illegal immigration enforcement policies in the nation at that time. The boundaries of local police authority would be tested and the county’s reputation was potentially at risk.

Historically, local police departments had little role to play in the enforcement of federal immigration law, except as it related to serious crimes. This new directive, however, required police officers to check the immigration status of anyone who was detained, and for whom probably cause existed to believe the person was illegally present in the United States. Furthermore, the BOCS instructed the Police Department to develop and implement a comprehensive illegal immigration enforcement policy within 60 days.

Because there was no guiding precedent or model policy to which the Department could refer, a comprehensive legal review became the first step in the execution of this complicated mandate. In order to ensure the policies and procedures being developed were firmly based in legal authority, the Chief of Police consulted with a variety of legal professionals, other law enforcement agencies, and leadership organizations across the nation, all of which shared their expertise and legal advice. Following this careful analysis and research, a proposed policy was drafted and presented to the Board in September 2007. The proposal contained a three-phased implementation approach: Phase I: Policy Development and Acquisition of Immigration Authority; Phase II: Public Information Campaign; and, Phase III: Evaluation. Phase III, a third-party, objective evaluation, is particularly illustrative of the Department’s commitment to utilizing and performing quality research to develop and implement organizational policies.

To carry out Phase III (Evaluation), the Police Department contracted with the Center for Survey Research (CSR) at the University of Virginia, who in turn, collaborated with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and James Madison University (JMU). This partnership allowed for a variety of expertise and research methods to be utilized throughout the three-year, interdisciplinary evaluation study. The research team analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data on the police and the community in order to investigate and report on the progress and impact of the new illegal immigration enforcement policy. Though every community is unique, universal lessons can be learned from the Evaluation Study of Prince William County’s Illegal Immigration Enforcement Policy—Final Report.

Project Leader: Tom Pulaski
Phone Number: (703) 792-6671
Email Address: tpulaski@pwcgov.org

For more information please contact Jenny Gargano at racaward@theiacp.org or call 1-800-THE-IACP (1-800-843-4227) ext. 392.