New Mobile App Brings Evidence-based Policing Strategies and Tactics to Those “On the Front Lines” of Policing and Crime Prevention

In late 2015, the Police Foundation, George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) collaborated to develop and release the first version of the Evidence-Based Policing App.

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The App, available for download from App Stores supporting iOS, Android, and Windows devices, is free to all users. The three organizations collaborated closely on the design and content, borrowing heavily from CEBCP’s Matrix Demonstration Project and many of the Police Foundation’s research and policy reports.

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Users who download the app can access strategies, tactics and general recommendations for responding to common crime concerns. Information is first organized by type of crime concern. Then, within each general category of crime, users can choose from a wide range of specific concerns they may need to address.

Different from other websites and tools related to evidence-based programs, this App explains the process required to implement an evidence-based strategy in simple and easily digestible steps, similar to what one might find in an officer’s “playbook.”1 (see e.g. Lum & Koper, 2015).

Users can search by keyword or topic in lieu of exploring crime concern categories, and all of the evidence-based recommendations include links to CEBCP’s Matrix website, where research summaries and expanded information can be found.

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It is important to note that although the App is called the Evidence-based Policing App, not all of the information and recommendations included should be considered evidence-based, but at a minimum, they represent best practices. For example, despite accolades by many when a law enforcement agency releases open data about its operations, there is no scientific evidence that releasing open data improves policing outcomes. Despite this, the App points to releasing open data as one way to improve community engagement.

Although additional information will soon be added, the App is now ready for use and contains valuable information for police officers, community members, analysts and others.

For example, an officer attending a neighborhood meeting may be confronted with complaints about how to respond to open air drug markets in the community. Although the officer could conduct her or his own research, the App provides quick and easy access to a list of steps to be considered to address this very problem, based on studies conducted by a variety of researchers on drug market intervention strategies, such as those involving partnerships between police and municipal departments, community groups, or regional task forces. To access these steps, the officer opens the App, selects “Crime Reduction.”

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As shown in the screenshot, those two clicks provide the officer, community members or policymakers with the following evidence-based recommendations to address open-air drug markets: implement geographically targeted problem-oriented policing interventions, focus on forging productive partnerships, target drug hotspots, make efforts to alter underlying conditions, and deploy patrol cars with license plate cameras.

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If further information is needed on these suggestions, a link is provided to access a full-page summary of the research and additional reading is recommended via bibliography.

We encourage practitioners, researchers, policymakers, community members and others to download the free app (no advertising and no in-app purchases to be wary of) and let us know your thoughts on how to improve it. New content will be added as it becomes available and new features and functions are possible.

References

Lum, C. & Koper, C. (2015). The Playbook: Plays for law enforcement officers to help prevent crime and increase citizen trust and confidence. Working draft available at: http://cebcp.org/evidence-based-policing/the-matrix/matrix-demonstration-project/ playbook/

1Like a football playbook, the Evidence-Based Policing Playbook is a working document, created by researchers and law enforcement personnel to provide tangible ideas for officers to use in patrol or specialized units for common problems that they face. The Playbook draws from the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix, CrimeSolutions.Gov,Campbell Collaboration Systematic Reviews, the Center for Problem Oriented Policing, and other knowledge. Additionally, the Playbook was created in collaboration officers from multiple agencies to ensure that suggestions are tangible and able to be implemented in actual policing settings.

Jim Burch

Mr. Burch is the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Police Foundation, overseeing the Foundation’s efforts to advance policing through innovations in practice and technology as well as the Foundation’s strategic programs and management services. Prior to joining the Police Foundation in early 2015, Mr. Burch served for more than 20 years at the U.S. Department of Justice, having been appointed to various senior executive and leadership positions, including Acting Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (2009-2011), Deputy Assistant Attorney General (2011-2014) of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and Acting Assistant Director at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) (2014-2015). During his career at the Department of Justice, Mr. Burch developed, supported, and led many key initiatives to advance policing and criminal justice, including major initiatives designed to encourage the use of data, technology and evidence-based crime reduction and policing strategies.

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