Police Practice-Based Projects

Practice-based research is a process that complements random controlled trials (i.e., experimental research) and is based on good quality data collected from routine police practice that when evaluated can provide direction for implementation of programs and organizational treatments. There are several methods that can accomplish a practice-based research approach.

  1. Researchers actively assist in developing processes and mechanisms for implementation, provide technical assistance, and then conduct a process evaluation that informs both the police department and the field.
  2. Police and researchers work collaboratively on demonstration and field application projects.
  3. Police departments that have identified an effective strategy enlist researchers to conduct an evaluation of the process and impact of its implementation.

The following are practice-based police research projects that have been conducted by members of the Center.

Office of Community-Oriented Policing Grant: Proactive Police Response to Prevent the Escalation of Domestic Violence and Increase Victim Safety

In 2018, the Danville, VA Police Department (DPD) implemented a Stratified Policing strategy to combat one of the highest rates of violent crime in Virginia. Working with the creators of the strategy, Drs. Santos, professors from Radford University, DPD was able to cut violent crime by half in 2019. With grant funding from the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, in 2020-2021, DPD and Radford University’s Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research are partnering again to apply the successful model to domestic violence. The project seeks to identify, track, and address repeat incident of domestic disputes by applying police and community resources to prevent or limit disputes from escalating. Using the problem-solving process, sergeants will be systematically assigned responsibility for repeat incidents and held accountable for implementing responses and resolution of the problem. Weekly reports will be created to identify the locations, track responses, and monitor progress toward resolution. Weekly meetings will be conducted to evaluate and adjust strategies until the domestic situation is resolved and the location/persons are no longer an issue. Community-level domestic-related resources will be utilized to support the process and supplement the police response.  The goals are to prevent the escalation of violence and increase victim safety in Danville while at the same time create a replicable process and tools that can be implemented and sustained in any jurisdiction at a minimal cost.

Recent news article about the project: Danville PD awarded $90.5K grant for response to domestic violence calls

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Office of Community-Oriented Policing Grant: Translating Best Practices: Developing a Framework for Institutionalizing Community Policing by Rank

 

The Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, “Community Policing Development,” grant is a two-year (2019-2021) project in which the Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research is partnering with 13 police departments and sheriff’s offices.

The strength of community policing lies is in its flexibility and diverse set of strategies, but this also creates ambiguity in how community policing should be implemented throughout a police department and by whom.  For community policing to be normalized in an agency, it must not be carried out by a specialist squad or relegated for only some individuals at the officer level, but must be an integral part of the organizational mission and carried out at each level of the organization.

The goal of this 2-year project is to produce practice-based deliverables that present an organizational approach in which all ranks in the police department are engaged in community policing on a daily basis. The Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research is partnering with 13 community-focused police departments and sheriff’s offices to solicit best practices. The project will result in a framework and toolkit to assist agencies in institutionalizing community policing throughout their organizations.

 

Portsmouth, VA Police Department: Implementation and Institutionalization of Stratified Policing

In 2020, Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos partnered with the Portsmouth, Virginia Police Department to implement Stratified Policing. The goal of this partnership is to assist PPD to develop its crime analysis capacity and tailor the Stratified Policing framework to its organizational processes to systematically implement proactive evidence-based crime reduction strategies at the immediate, short-term, and long-term levels.  The partnership includes: 1) an organizational assessment of current crime reduction and community activities, 2) development of a tailored implementation plan, goals, and policies, 3) stratified training for all ranks, units, and divisions in the agency, and 4) in depth assistance for implementation.  

Danville, VA Police Department: Implementation and Institutionalization of Stratified Policing

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos are currently working with Chief Scott Booth and the Danville, VA Police Department to implement Stratified Policing. The goal of this partnership is to provide an organizational framework to institutionalize problem solving, proactive evidence-based crime reduction strategies, and engagement with the community. The partnership includes: 1) an organizational assessment of current crime reduction and community activities, 2) development of a tailored implementation plan, goals, and policies, 3) stratified training for all ranks, units, and divisions in the agency, and 4) in depth assistance for implementation.

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In 2019, the City of Danville saw significant decreases in violent and property crime after the implementation of Stratified Policing highlighted here in a news article and a press conference held by Chief Booth at the Danville PD. 

July 2020: Data shows Danville crime on decline; leaders credit community approach to policing

January 2020: Danville Police Announce New Strategy in Fighting Crime: Stratified Policing

January 2020: Danville Police Department: Full Press Conference

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An important part of institutionalizing proactive crime reduction and facilitating organizational change is making sure the rank and file understand "the why" behind the strategies implemented as well as the organizational mechanisms that change what they do day-to-day for proactive crime reduction.  Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos conducted training for individuals in each rank tailored to their roles and responsibiities in Stratified Policing.  

 

Using Drones for CPTED Analysis in City of Radford Public Schools

Dr. ‘Shawn Smith, Center Faculty Fellow, is working with Corporal Eric Martin, school liaison and oversight officer of School Resource Officers (SROs) for the Radford City Police Department (RCPD), and Radford City Public Schools (RCPS) to perform CPTED/Drone analysis of school facilities throughout the Radford City Public schools system in the interest of better fortification against and response to mass shooting threats. Dr. Smith is overseeing the use of the aerial unmanned drone and gimbal 360 degree camera technologies, recently acquired by the Criminal Justice Department at Radford University, to complete a thorough examination of the layout (both internal and external) of each school in the RCPS district. The initial assessment was performed for Belle Heth Elementary School, located on George St. in Radford, Va.

The CPTED-centered analysis and active shooter response is about to enter its second phase.  Partnering with Dr. Skip Watts (Radford Department of Geology), they have created 3-D renderings that were taken from drone scans of the schools.  The models are usable now for officer training, and Corporal Martin’ is eager to move forward to the next phase.  Some results of this work include plans for redesigning one of the school's front entrance based upon the recommendations offered in the initial report.

 

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Matthews, NC Police Department: Organizational Assessment for Stratified Policing Implementation

With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance National Training and Technical Assisstance Center, Drs. Santos are working with Chief Clark Pennington and the Matthews, NC Police Department (MPD) to implement Stratified Policing.  To understand the policies, practices, and organizational culture of MPD, an organizational assessment is being conducted which includes an examination of current data and technology capabilities, crime analysis products, crime reduction policies and procedures, as well as the organizational structure and unit/personnel functions. An organizational survey was conducted about current crime reduction and problem solving practices, communication, leadership, accountability, and transparency. Dr. Santos spent two days onsite doing interviews and focus groups. The deliverable for this work is a report with specific recommendations for tailoring Stratified Policing to MPD's organizational structure and implementing the proactive crime reduction strategies best suited for MPD. 

 

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Drs. Rachel and Roberto Santos present an overview of Stratified Policing to Matthews Police Departments supervisors, managers, and commanders, as part of the two-day site visit. 

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Washoe County, NV Sheriff's Office: Implementation and Institutionalization of Stratified Policing

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have begun a collaboration with Sheriff Balaam and the Washoe County, Nevada Sheriff's Office to implement Stratified Policing. The goal of this partnership is to assist WCSO to develop its crime analysis capacity and tailor the Stratified Policing framework to its organizational processes to systematically implement proactive evidence-based crime reduction strategies at the immediate, short-term, and long-term levels.  The partnership includes: 1) an organizational assessment of current crime reduction and community activities, 2) development of a tailored implementation plan, goals, and policies, 3) stratified training for all ranks, units, and divisions in the agency, and 4) in depth assistance for implementation.

 

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Drs. Santos met with Sheriff Balaam and his executive staff at the end of a two day site visit in which they spoke with personnel in all ranks, units, and divisions to learn more about the agency in order to develop a tailored Stratified Policing implementation plan. 

 

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Richmond County, GA School District Police Department: Implementation of Stratified Policing to Address Fights, Bullying, Drugs, and Guns

Drs. Santos have partnered with Chief Reginald Wade and his department to implement Stratified Policing  to improve the department's response to the School District's school safety issues in its 59 schools.  In particular, the department will systematize the identification of and responses to short-term and long-term problems of fights, bullying, drugs, and guns as well as establish an accountability system that ensures responses are appropriate and effective.  The partnership includes training for all ranks and ongoing assistance for implementation and problem solving.

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Dr. Roberto Santos is pictured here conducting training on site in Augusta, GA for the School District police officers, detectives, supervisors, managers, and executive staff. 

 

Fort Myers, FL Police Department: Implementation and Institutionalization of Stratified Policing

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have begun a partnership with Chief Derrick Diggs and the Fort Myers, Florida Police Department. The goal of this partnership is to assist Fort Myers to implement Stratified Policing and institutionalize crime reduction and community engagement strategies in the organization. The partnership includes: 1) an organizational assessment of current crime reduction and community activities, 2) stratified policing training for sergeants and above, 3) crime analysis training, as well as 4) in depth assistance in implementation.

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Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos are pictured here with Chief Derrick Diggs and his executive staff.

Putnam County, FL Sheriff's Office: Implementation and Institutionalization of Stratified Policing

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have begun a partnership with Sheriff DeLoach and the Putnam County, Florida Sheriff's Office to implement Stratified Policing. The goal of this partnership is to assist PCSO to develop its crime analysis capacity and tailor the Stratified Policing framework to its organizational processes to systematically implement proactive evidence-based crime reduction strategies at the immediate, short-term, and long-term levels.  The partnership includes: 1) an organizational assessment of current crime reduction and community activities, 2) development of a tailored implementation plan, goals, and policies, 3) stratified training for all ranks, units, and divisions in the agency, and 4) in depth assistance for implementation.

January 1, 2021: Putnam County credits new strategy for dramatic drop in crimes

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Dr. Roberto Santos trains lieutenants, captains, and majors of the Putnam County, FL Sheriff's Office on Stratified Policing.

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Drs. Santos also trained all deputies and sergeants to ensure that all personnel understand the nature and foundational concepts of Stratified Policing and how it is being tailored to the Sheriff’s Office organizational structure, resources, and nature of crime and disorder and the community.

Delaware State Police: Implementation and Evaluation of Stratified Policing

Since 2015, Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos continue to work with Colonel Nathaniel McQueen and the Delaware State Police to enhance and evaluate its implementation of Stratified Policing. The partnership has included a comprehensive needs assessment, recommendations, an implementation plan, as well as training on Stratified Policing and evidence-based proactive crime reduction strategies. With BJAG funding in 2019, Drs. Santos provide ongoing assistance for each Troop in the state and are currently in the process of conducting a 3-year follow up assessment of the implementation, advanced training, and a train-the-trainer program for long-term sustainability of Stratified Policing.

See this article in the The Police Chief Magazine by By Nathaniel McQueen Jr., Colonel/Superintendent; Major Sean E. Moriarty, EdD, Operations Major; and William Crotty, Captain, Delaware State Police on the agency’s implementation of Stratified Policing: The Stratified Policing Model in the Delaware State Police: Implications for Statewide Evidence-Based Practices   

See this article about Delaware's burglary clearance rate: Apparently, Delaware is extremely good at catching burglars.

See Chapter 3 of the IACP's Traffic Safety Resource Guide (2017) by Captains Jeniffer Griffin and William Crotty: The Changing of Culture as a Byproduct of the Delaware State Police’s Implementation of the Stratified Model to Address Traffic Safety: The Pilot Study.

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As part of their partnership, Drs. Santos conduct a trainer-the-trainer session in which key personnel from each of the eight Troops are provided instruction on the delivery of Stratified Policing training to Troopers and well as a in depth discussion of how Stratified Policing is being implemented throughout the state. 

Dr. Rachel Santos also conducted a 2-day crime analysis training that provided instruction on all the crime analysis processes and products necessary to successfully carry out Stratified Policing. Crime analysis is the key mechanism that drives proactive response to crime problems at short- and long-term levels. Thus, in addition to the on site training, Delaware State Police was provided crime analysis product templates and ongoing assistance for tailoring the products to their implementation of Stratified Policing.

Implementation of Evidence-Based Policing Strategies and Crime Analysis in Rural Police Departments in Southwest Virginia

With funding from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Center provided evidence-based policing and crime analysis education and Stratified Policing implementation assistance to small, rural police agencies in Southwest Virginia. Through a partnership with the Galax, VA Police Department, Drs. Rachel and Roberto Santos delivered a chief’s seminar and multiple training sessions for over 100 police officers at all ranks from more than 15 departments. They worked closely with four police departments in a workshop to develop and implementation plan for Stratified Policing and subsequently provided in depth assistance to guide the agencies in developing a crime reduction policy, crime analysis products, and accountability meetings.

See this news article for more information on the project: Radford University professors take crime reduction police training on the road

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Stratified Policing training hosted at the City of Radford Police Department.

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Stratified Policing workshop held at Radford University with Galax PD, Pulaski PD, Radford PD, and Harrisonburg PD. 

 

Outside and Inside the Police Subculture: An Ethnographic Study of Police in Blacksburg, VA  

Dr. Bakhitah Abdul-Ra’uf's ethnographic practice-based research project focuses on police subculture, emphasizing the socially defined role of the police in Blacksburg, VA. The research also examines the training and socialization process which conceptualizes the life style or role of the police officer from their points of view, their definitions of reality, and the conditions that promote favorable relations within the community. The significance of the study was to focus on street level or patrol officers, and resided in efforts to identify Social Justice issues that create and nurture favorable relations between the police and communities in general.  The goal of the project was to describe, using an ethnographic approach, the police occupational subculture as it relates to current police training and practices, the relationship between the police and the community, and a comparison of practices relating to police-community practices between Blacksburg Police (small college town) practices and that of a previous ethnography conducted by Dr. Abdul-Ra’uf of the police in a mid-size city. Having gone through police academy in Florida as a recruit, Dr. Abdul-Ra’uf was accepted not just as a ride along and observer, but as someone who could relate to the general subculture of the police.  Dr. Abdul-Ra’uf continues her relationship with the Blacksburg Police Department as she and Sgt. Kale Craver currently examine municipal and police leadership. The following is a peer reviewed academic article with partial findings from the ethnographic study of the Blacksburg Police Department.

Abdul-Ra’uf, B. (2018) The Blacksburg, VA Police Department: A Model of Professionalism and Social Justice.  Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 18(2), 10-15.

AbstractThe police subculture, one that has its own customs, morals and taboos—continues to be ostracized by many in society.  Historically, and in the recent past, organizational problems which negatively affect the relationship it has, or is able to develop with many communities were identified by some criminal justice scholars as reasons for the ostracizing.  Through training, new recruits are socialized into an occupation where shared patterns of behavior, values, attitudes, and beliefs are distinct. This research examined the police subculture, emphasizing the socially defined role of the police in Blacksburg, VA.  The research also emphasizes the training and socialization process which conceptualizes the life style or role of the police officer from their point of view, their definition of reality, and the conditions that promote favorable relations within the community

San Mateo County, CA Sheriff’s Office: Implementation of Stratified Policing and Intelligence-Led Policing

Since 2018, Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have partnered with San Mateo County, CA Sheriff’s Office to enhance its implementation of Stratified Policing and Intelligence-Led Policing. The partnership includes discussion and recommendations for implementation and training of supervisors, managers, and leaders of the agency. Drs. Santos continue to work with and provide assistance to the Sheriff's Office.

Walton County, FL Sheriff’s Office: Evaluation and Sustainability of Stratified Policing

Since 2014, Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have partnered with the Walton County, FL Sheriff’s Office to implement, evaluate, and sustain Stratified Policing and evidence-based practices.  The partnership has included a comprehensive organizational assessment, recommendations for implementation of Stratified Policing, training for sworn personnel and advanced training for crime analysis personnel. Drs. Santos continue to work with and provide assistance to the agency. The following is a peer reviewed academic article with results from the survey that examine organizational change in the Sheriff's Office.

Santos, R.G. (2018) Police organizational change after implementing crime analysis and evidence-based strategies through stratified policing. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 12(3), 288-302.

Abstract: This article presents the findings from an evaluation of one sheriff’s office in Florida. Evidence-based policing strategies and crime analysis were implemented within the agency through ‘stratified policing’, an organizational framework to facilitate the systematic implementation of evidence-based practices through problem solving, analysis, and accountability. Crime analysis is an integral part of stratified policing and is the foundation on which all evidence-based practices are implemented and evaluated within the approach. While the agency saw crime reductions after implementation of stratified policing, when implementing and sustaining new practices throughout a police organization, it is important to evaluate components of organizational change. Thus, two waves of the same anonymous online survey were administered to agency personnel to obtain their perceptions about leadership, accountability, communication, and transparency occurring within the agency’s crime reduction efforts as well as the frequency of proactive crime reduction activities. Comparisons of the mean results for the two waves (i.e. baseline and one year of implementation) show significant increases in the amount of crime reduction activities in addition to significant improvements in leadership, accountability, communication, and transparency. Personnel were also more satisfied with the agency’s crime reduction efforts. The findings support stratified policing as one way to institutionalize crime analysis and evidence-based crime reduction and make important changes to sustain practices within an agency’s crime reduction culture.

See this article on the agency’s implementation of Stratified Policing: Sheriff's Office touts statistical policing

Harrisonburg, VA Police Department: Implementation of Stratified Policing

Since 2018, Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have and continue to work with the Harrisonburg, VA Police Department to enhance and evaluate its implementation of Stratified Policing. The partnership has included training on Stratified Policing and evidence-based proactive crime reduction strategies as well as ongoing assistance.

See these news articles on the agency’s implementation of Stratified Policing: 

Harrisonburg crime lower overall in 2018

Harrisonburg police able to use new strategy to solve crime

Salisbury, NC Police Department: Implementation of Stratified Policing

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos have partnered with the Salisbury, NC Police Department to enhance its implementation of Stratified Policing and evidence-based practices.  The partnership included an organizational survey and assessment, recommendations for implementation, and training. Drs. Santos continue to work with and provide assistance to the agency. The following are several news articles on Salisbury Police Department's ongoing implementation. 

See these articles on the agency’s implementation of Stratified Policing: 

Salisbury' Police Department's strategic goals strike a chord with the community

Salisbury Police Department receives crime reduction training

Bureau of Justice Assistance Crime Analysis Capabilities Project

Dr. Rachel Santos served a subject matter expert for the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, Bureau of Justice Assistance for the “Crime Analysis Capability Project” funded by Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).  She lead a team that oversaw the project design and provided technical assistance for the implementation of three projects to implement crime analysis into a medium sized-agency, a real time crime center, and for a regional initiative. In addition, she helped to monitored each project’s progress and lead the development of a Crime Analysis Toolkit based on the results of the agencies’ implementation and crime analysis best practices for BJA.

Greensboro, NC: Stratified Policing, Community Engagement, and Resource Allocation

Dr. Rachel Santos partnered with the Greensboro, NC Police Department and conducted training of sworn and crime analysis personnel, an organizational assessment and in depth assistance with the implementation of Stratified Policing, community engagement, and resource allocation. The work was funded by the agency as well as a grant from the Office of Community Policing Services.

Increasing Analytical Capacity: Training for the Law Enforcement Executive

Drs. Rachel and Roberto Santos partnered with the National Police Foundation in Washington D.C. and the International Association of Crime Analysts to develop curriculum and system for training delivery to law enforcement executives on proactive policing strategies for crime reduction and crime analysis. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a team of trainers including a police leader, researcher, and crime analyst conducted training around the country to groups of police agency leaders at regional sites as well as at the Southern Policing Institute at the University of Louisville. 

Implementing CompStat and Crime Analysis in Maryland Police Agencies

With over $1 million in funding from the State of Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Drs. Rachel and Roberto Santos partnered with the University of Maryland, Institute for Governmental Service and Research, to assist 100 agencies throughout the State of Maryland in their implemenation of CompStat, Crime Analysis, and Stratified Policing.  A comprehensive framework for delivery of training and technical assistance was developed which included 1) a best practices seminar for police executives, 2) a needs assessment process that resulted in specific recommendations for implementation, 3) training for sworn and crime analysis personnel, 4) a workshop for implementation plan development, and 4) in depth on site assistance.  The inititative succeeded in training most of the agencies and hundreds of their sworn and crime analysis personnel, conducting over 30 assessements, and providing in depth assistance to a number of agencies for the successful impelmentation of Stratified Policing. 

Port St. Lucie, FL Police Department: Institutionalizing Problem Solving, Analysis, and Accountability

This project, funded by several grants from the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, began in 2004 with the goal of institutionalizing problem solving, crime analysis, and accountability into the Port St. Lucie, FL Police Department.  Dr. Rachel [Boba] Santos worked closely with the agency as a research partner to develop standard crime analysis products, policies, and practices for an organizational system to support proactive crime reduction.  Funding also supported the evaluation of the implementation and the publication of two guidebooks to support other agencies in implementing the organizational model. Dr. Roberto Santos played a key role in the development and implementation of the strategies in the police department and in writing of the publications and research articles. “Stratified Policing” was born from this initial work with the Port St. Lucie, FL Police Department. It has been enhanced over the years by Drs. Santos and implemented by many other agencies around the country and internationally. The work received the first ever International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement-Research Award in 2008 and the following are publications that were a direct result of this partnership:

Santos, R.B. (2013). Implementation of a police organizational model for crime reduction. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 32(2) 295-311.

Santos, R.B., & Santos, R.G. (2012). The role of leadership in implementing a police organizational model for crime reduction and accountability. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 6(4), 344-353.

Boba [Santos], R., & Santos, R.G. (2011). A police organizational model for crime reduction: Institutionalizing problem solving, analysis, and accountability. Washington DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Santos, R.G. (February 2011). Systematic pattern response strategy: Protecting the beehive.  FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

Boba [Santos], R. (2011). Institutionalization of problem solving, analysis, and accountability in the Port St. Lucie, FL Police Department. Washington DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Boba [Santos], R. (2010). A practice-based evidence approach in Florida. Police Practice and Research, Special Issue: The Evolving Relationship between Police Research and Police Practice, 11 (2), 122-128.

Boba [Santos], R., & Crank, J. (2008). Institutionalizing problem-oriented policing: Rethinking problem identification, analysis, and accountability. Police Practice and Research, 9(5), 379-393.

Boba [Santos], R., & Santos, R.G. (2007). Single-family home construction site theft: A crime prevention case study. International Journal of Construction Education and Research, 3(3), 217-236.

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