Professors host training session for police officers
Police officers of all ranks from around the region gathered at the City of Radford Council Chambers on Feb. 23 for a training session to learn from Radford University Criminal Justice Professor Rachel Santos and Assistant Professor Roberto Santos.
The training session, the second in a series of four offered in February and March, covered Stratified Policing and evidence-based crime reduction as well as strategies for improving community engagement in local police departments and sheriff’s offices in Southwest Virginia.
With funding of $106,000 from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Santoses have partnered with the Galax Police Department along with the Radford, Pulaski, and Wytheville Police Departments.
Roberto Santos said that “Rachel and I have developed and implemented Stratified Policing in a wide range of agencies over the last 14 years.”
“It is an organizational model that provides clear structure and guidance to ensure all levels of the police department are involved in crime reduction work,” he said. “Through Stratified Policing, proven crime reduction strategies are institutionalized into day-to-day police business, just as answering calls for service and investigating crimes already are.”
Corp. Emily Hite of Radford City Police Department said that the training stresses the importance of crime analysis and accountability.
“It shows [that] … everything is evidence based so you know that these are practices that work,” Hite said. “Obviously our goal is to reduce crime and we get a better living situation for all of our citizens.”
Brian Webb, an officer with the Radford City Police Department, said that they heard a lot of good ideas that they will pass on to other members of the department.
“I think that we can shift focus and apply the different approaches to how we address certain problems within the city, specifically higher crime areas,” he said. “It would foolish not to [use the information presented by the Santoses]. They’ve put a lot of time into this. Being able to take away some of the research findings that they are providing here today and bringing them over to the patrol officers in our agency is important.”
The training sessions are available for all ranks of the police department and provide the components for and guidance to implement specific proactive crime reduction strategies that are most effective for place-based, problem-based and offender-based problems in the community.
After individual agencies send a cadre of their personnel through the training, agencies can send a team to a workshop conducted by the Santoses where they will develop a tailored implementation plan for Stratified Policing. The first workshop will be held at Radford University on March 6 with the Galax, Radford, Wytheville and Pulaski Police Departments. Once the agencies have their plans, Rachel and Roberto will provide on-site in-depth assistance to implement the plans in each agency. Additional training, workshops and assistance will be offered throughout the year.
“A lot of the local police agencies have not had training or technical assistance quite like this before,” Rachel Santos said. “Southwest Virginia agencies usually have to send people to Northern Virginia to bring back the ideas for implementation. Now, with this grant, the training and technical assistance is coming to them. And our full-time, permanent status as professors at Radford University means that we will be able to see this work through to full implementation. ”