Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research receives additional grant

Rachel Santos, Ph.D.
Rachel Santos, Ph.D.

The Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research is continuing its strong tradition of impactful, community-oriented engagement and support by receiving a U.S. Department of Justice Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) grant.

The two-year, $135,000 grant will fund the development of a realistic and systematic framework for implementing community-oriented policing at each rank within the police organization. The project includes a review of the research and best practices of community policing and will utilize focus groups to receive input from each rank in 13 police departments and sheriff's offices about successful community policing practices and procedures.

The goal is to translate these results into an organizational framework that specifies the roles and responsibilities of each rank to create a cohesive team approach, enhance community relationships and increase the trust and collaboration between police and their communities. The lead researchers for the endeavor are Radford University faculty members Rachel Santos, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice, and Roberto Santos, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice, co-directors of the Center.

"There's very little out there that lays out what each rank in a police department should do to engage with communities in their day-to-day jobs," Roberto Santos said, who has more than two decades of experience in policing. "We're going to assess what is currently known and develop a solid framework for agencies to adopt. What should police officers, sergeants, lieutenants, and other ranks do? What things can they do realistically within the scope of their daily jobs that help the process of community policing and build on each other's efforts to create an overall comprehensive approach to improve police and community relationships? That's what we are going to address."

While the Santoses typically focus on the practical application of research, this grant will allow them to identify best practices and develop innovative processes to be implemented in police departments.

"We create new research, but as important is taking research and putting it into practice," Rachel Santos said. "What we love about this grant is that we're going to come up with a framework based on the research, as well as on best practices from innovative police departments and sheriff's offices."

Roberto Santos, Ph.D., left, and Rachel Santos, Ph.D., center-right, talk with local agencies during the opening of the Center.

Roberto Santos, Ph.D., left, and Rachel Santos, Ph.D., center-right, talk with local agencies during the opening of the Center.

By formulating a consistent structure for all personnel to engage in community policing, the Santoses and the Center will be providing all police agencies guidance for institutionalizing community policing at each level. Their goal after the grant is to work with several police agencies to implement the framework and enhance it, much like they have done with Stratified Policing.

The following police departments and sheriff's offices will be supporting the Santoses in their work:

  • Blacksburg, Virginia Police Department;
  • Danville, Virginia Police Department;
  • Dayton, Ohio Police Department;
  • Delaware State Police;
  • Fort Myers, Florida Police Department;
  • Galax, Virginia Police Department;
  • Greenville, South Carolina Police Department;
  • Putnam County, Florida Sheriff's Office;
  • Richmond County, Georgia Board of Education Police Department;
  • Roanoke (City), Virginia Police Department;
  • Roanoke County, Virginia Police Department;
  • Salisbury, North Carolina Police Department; and
  • Walton County, Florida Sheriff's Office.

The participating police departments and sheriff's offices will engage in the research through video conferencing. The focus groups will be hosted in the Radford University Emergency Operations Center, which is housed in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Building.

"There's not a lot of travel involved, because we are able to engage a lot of police departments all at once virtually," Santos said. "We're excited about being able to use the resources of the University and engage so many of our police partners."

Through the work of the Center, Radford University strives to create a lasting positive community legacy through the ongoing collaboration with police departments and sheriff's offices around the United States. The creation and establishment of a framework for implementing community policing by rank is another example of the impactful research conducted by world-class faculty at Radford University.

Dec 16, 2019
Max Esterhuizen