Regional partnership fuels Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research

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

The Center for Police, Practice, Policy and Research officially opened at Radford University in early 2019. Under the guidance of co-directors, Rachel Santos, Ph.D., and Roberto Santos, Ph.D., the Center received another grant.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Strategies for Police Innovation,” grant is a three-year, $500,000 regional partnership that involves Radford University, the City of Roanoke Police Department, the Vinton Police Department, the Salem Police Department, Roanoke County Police Department, Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office, City of Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney, the United States Attorney of the Western District of Virginia and SmartForce Technologies, Inc.

“What is so exciting about this grant is that it is local,” Rachel Santos said. “Roberto and I work with agencies around the country and having this initiative in our own backyard allows us to make an impact in our community. The Roanoke Valley partners are well suited for this grant and are ready to become a model for other regional criminal justice collaborations.”

The broad goal of the grant is to implement Stratified Policing to institutionalize proactive crime reduction for the police agencies and coordinate regional criminal justice responses to violent crime. A specific innovative technology, called SmartForce, will be implemented in each agency to facilitate and support coordination, communication and accountability for evidence-based crime reduction strategies.

Stratified Policing is an organizational model that provides a set of processes for analysis, response and accountability to implement evidence-based policing strategies. During the three-year grant, the Center will assist each agency, facilitate the regional partnership in implementing Stratified Policing and the technology and evaluate the implementation.

“Our purpose is to systematize the collective responses of all criminal justice agencies, while responding as a team with a common goal to reduce violent crime and make the community safer,” Roberto Santos said. “Hopefully, doing this will make the existing strained criminal justice resources as efficient and effective as possible.”

Local police departments celebrated the opening of the Center for Police, Practice, Policy and Research in April 2019.

Local police departments celebrated the opening of the Center for Police, Practice, Policy and Research in April 2019.

SmartForce is an agency management system that facilitates communication among different agencies with the goal of reducing crime and improving information sharing. Each police department and criminal justice agency will be linked within the system allowing the secure transmission of intelligence about violent crime problems and offenders. The software will also facilitate real-time communication of proactive crime reduction responses by everyone and allow supervisors to view the work being done and produce summary reports for accountability meetings.

In the first year of the grant, the partners will work to implement the technology and begin training with the software and about Stratified Policing. In the second and third years, regional coordination and full implementation of Stratified Policing and the technology will occur.

“We want to be thoughtful and deliberate in our implementation, evaluation and adjustments for the regional collaboration,” Roberto Santos said. “This grant is an opportunity to ensure that the technology is implemented correctly for proactive crime reduction and use the successes achieved by the Roanoke Valley collaboration as examples for other regional violent crime reduction initiatives.”

In addition to a lasting positive community impact, the Santoses expect the research from the grant to result in several academic and professional publications, as well as presentations at U.S. Department of Justice conferences.

Dec 6, 2019
Max Esterhuizen