Center for Police Policy, Practice and Research opens

Roberto Santos (left) and Rachel Santos (right) announce the inaugural Excellence in Policing Award recipient.
Roberto Santos (left) and Rachel Santos (right) announce the inaugural Excellence in Policing Award recipient.

A special ceremony that included the inaugural Excellence in Policing award officially opened the Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research on April 24 in Radford University’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Building.

The Center, which blends evidence-based and practice-based research to inform best methods in crime prevention and police practices, is headed by two Criminal Justice faculty members: Assistant Professor Roberto Santos and Professor Rachel Santos. The Santos’ research helps determine how to apply the practices within the organizational structure and operations of law enforcement agencies.

Focus areas of the Center include the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based, proactive policing practices, such as:

  • Place-based, problem-based, community-based, and offender-focused proactive policing strategies;
  • Stratified policing: A police organizational model for institutionalizing proactive crime reduction strategies;
  • Crime analysis and crime mapping;
  • Organizational change and leadership; and
  • Police accountability for crime reduction.

Collaborations with police departments and their communities across the country are a focal point of the Center.

Rachel Santos
Rachel Santos

“The Center’s research is not only about police, but also crime. It’s about aspects of the criminal justice system, such as the law, courts and corrections, as well as critical incident management since they all directly or indirectly influence police,” said Rachel Santos. “We take our own and others’ research results and translate them to practice through our publications, training and in-depth, on-site assistance. We want to foster the institutionalization of innovative strategies into the day-to-day operations of police departments, other criminal justice agencies and local governments.”

Radford University Faculty Fellows are a part of the Center,  with each Fellow having specific areas of expertise that contribute to the capacity of the Center to conduct research and work directly with agencies.

The inaugural Faculty Fellows are: 

  • Steve Owen for critical incident and emergency management; 
  • Luke William Hunt for law; 
  • ‘Shawn Smith for crime mapping, unmanned drones, and public policy; and 
  • Bakhitah Abdul-Ra'uf for police culture and police/community relations. 

Police Fellows also assist the Center through leadership in their own agencies and in the law enforcement profession, as well as contribute to Center activities and research. The Police Fellows include: 

  • Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Walton County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office; 
  • Deputy Chief Shon Fitzgerald Barnes, Ph.D., Salisbury (North Carolina) Police Department; 
  • Chief Richard Biehl, Dayton (Ohio) Police Department; 
  • Chief John Bolduc, Port St. Lucie (Florida) Police Department; 
  • Chief Maris M. Herold, University of Cincinnati (Ohio) Police Department; 
  • Col. Nathaniel McQueen, Delaware State Police; 
  • Chief Kenneth Miller, Greenville (South Carolina) Police Department; and
  • Assistant Sheriff Gregory Rothaus, San Mateo County (California) Sheriff’s Office. 

Chiefs and command staff of police departments from across the region attended the ceremony — Chief Tim Jones from the Roanoke Police Department, Chief Scott Booth from the Danville Police Department, Assistant Chief Jimmy Chapman of the Roanoke County Police Department and Chief DeWitt Cooper of the Galax Police Department were just a few of the attendees that also included Radford’s Interim Provost Kenna Colley; Interim CHBS Dean Matthew Smith; Interim Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research Orion Rogers; and Director of Sponsored Program and Grant Management Thomas Cruise.

During the ceremony, the recipient of the Excellence in Policing Award was announced. This annual award will be given to a current sworn police officer, supervisor, commander or executive who is a leader in his or her agency and who implements innovative strategies to bring about change and improve policing. This year’s inaugural award winner was Col. Nathaniel McQueen of the Delaware State Police.

As he accepted the award, McQueen was eager to share credit with his staff and expressed excitement about his agency’s work with Radford University.

“We thank President [Brian O.] Hemphill and all the students, faculty and staff at Radford University,” McQueen said. “We are grateful to receive the award and even more grateful for our partnership with Drs. Rachel and Roberto Santos. It isn’t one person here that does everything. I have a great staff. I’m grateful to just be a part of it. [The partnership] been great for our agency and they’ve done amazing work around the country. We are honored to receive this award.”

Roberto Santos said the Criminal Justice professors have partnered with Delaware State Police for several years, and that the inaugural award should to go to someone who was an example for others in the policing profession.

“We thought it would be a great idea for the Center to give the award to someone who relentlessly shows leadership in improving policing,” Santos said. “Col. McQueen has been persistent in pushing his agency and was able to institutionalize innovative strategies to reduce crime and improve community/police relationships.

 “We enjoy partnering with innovative police leaders who are seeking to not only improve their respective police organizations, but the overall policing profession,” Roberto Santos said. “An example of this is a partnership that we recently formed with Chief Scott Booth and the Danville, Virginia, Police Department, where we are working together to improve the department’s systematic implementation of proactive crime reduction strategies and to develop partnerships with community, business, and other service organizations. This type of work is central to what we do in the Center.”

The Center aligns with Radford University's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan: Embracing the Tradition and Envisioning the Future, by increasing faculty and student-faculty collaborative research, including public and private partnerships, faculty development and grant-supported research.

Some of the Police Fellows with Roberto and Rachel Santos.

Some of the Police Fellows with Roberto and Rachel Santos.

May 8, 2019
Max Esterhuizen