Research Publications

Civilianization of policing is one of the most frequent methods agencies use to continue providing service to the community while still tending to the pressing management and administration needs of an agency. Integrating Civilian Staff into Police Agencies describes issues surrounding the employment and use of civilian employees by police agencies in the United States. This publication discusses not only innovative ways that some agencies are using civilians but also impediments and facilitators to civilianization and the costs and benefits of increasing civilianization. It also provides general recommendations for agencies considering the increased use of civilian employees.

Police consolidation is a complex issue that can significantly impact the quality of life in and the security of a community. To help agencies better understand this process, Police Consolidation: Engaging the News Media explores how the news presents the topic of consolidation, along with its associated community interests, budgetary concerns, and potential outcomes. This resource guide also explores what sources news reporters use to construct consolidation stories and how reporters use these sources to convey what messages. Most important for public officials and policymakers considering consolidation in their own communities, this publication provides best practices based on interviews with representatives of agencies that sought consolidation and provides recommendations on how best to communicate through the media.

For those communities that have implemented or are considering options that would result in sharing, consolidating, or regionalizing public safety services with other public sector entities, the quality of solutions and the success of their implementation depend on the ability of leaders and citizens to gather and in good faith analyze relevant information, carry on careful and rational discussions of tough issues, and craft workable plans in a timely fashion with a minimum of divisive conflict. Police Consolidation: Collaborating with Stakeholders aims to help those charged with exploring options for transforming an organization and for delivering public safety services by presenting a step-by-step process to constructively engage a group of stakeholders and formulate options for transformation.

A Performance-Based Approach to Staffing and Allocation summarizes the research conducted by the Michigan StateUniversity team. It highlights the current staffing allocation landscape for law enforcement agencies and provides a practical step-by-step approach for any agency to assess its own patrol staffing needs based upon its workload and performance objectives. Additionally, it identifies some ways beyond the use of sworn staff that workload demand can be managed, and discusses how an agency’s approach to community policing implementation can affect staffing allocation and deployment. This guidebook will be particularly useful for police practitioners and planners conducting an assessment of their agency’s staffing need, and for researchers interested in police staffing experiences and assessment methods. 

Research also reprinted in Ohio Police Chief Magazine.

The COPS Office presents this Essentials for Leaders, which provides summaries of existing and new COPS Office publications and resources, tailored for executives. Essentials for Leaders: A Performance-Based Approach to Staffing and Allocation summarizes the research conducted by the Michigan State University team on the current staffing allocation landscape for law enforcement agencies and provides a practical step-by-step approach for any agency to assess its own patrol staffing needs based upon its workload and performance objectives. Additionally, it identifies some ways beyond the use of sworn staff that workload demand can be managed, and discusses how an agency’s approach to community policing implementation can affect staffing allocation and deployment.

The provision of public safety services is among the most challenging tasks a community faces. Among the reasons for this is that expenditures for public safety are among the largest outlay local communities make. Since the economic recession of 2008 and 2009, communities have found it increasingly difficult to maintain proper staffing levels, provide basic police service, and deliver certain functions. Decision-makers in state and local governments have sought to respond to these challenges in several ways, including the consolidation of police and fire services into single, public service agencies.

To facilitate the sharing of research and experience-based lessons on rationalization, consolidation, and shared police services, the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Criminal Justice, through its Police Executive Development Series, hosted more than 75 national and Michigan police leaders at a 3 day event. The Event, occurring on September 27-29, 2011, included an overview of sharing public safety services and consolidation, presentations on similar initiatives elsewhere, and discussion of these issues in Michigan. This report summarizes the key discussions, conclusions, and lessons of the symposium. 


The supply of and demand for qualified police officers are changing in a time of increasing attrition, expanding law-enforcement responsibilities, and decreasing resources. These contribute to the difficulties that many agencies report in creating a workforce that represents community demographics, is committed to providing its employees the opportunity for long-term police careers, and effectively implements community policing. This book summarizes lessons on recruiting and retaining effective workforces.

In 2006, more than 6 million individuals were victimized by violent crimes. Although violence is below levels of the early 1990s, it remains high. The extent of violence and its impact highlight a critical need to develop and implement effective programs to reduce violence and victimization. Communities have initiated a wide range of such programs, and scholars have conducted numerous evaluations of varying quality of them. Reviews have found certain types of strategies and specific programs to be promising, but additional critical evaluations are needed to plan violence-reduction programs. This monograph assesses the implementation and impact of the One Vision One Life violence-prevention strategy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2003, Pittsburgh witnessed a 49-percent increase in homicides, prompting a "grassroots" creation and implementation of the One Vision One Life antiviolence strategy. This initiative used a problem-solving, data-driven model, including street-level intelligence, to intervene in escalating disputes, and seeks to place youth in appropriate social programs. Analysis of the program, which is modeled on similar efforts elsewhere, can help inform other efforts to address urban violence.

Personnel management is a critical but often neglected function of police organizations. While much attention is given to recruiting and retention, these are only tools for accomplishing a larger goal: achieving and maintaining the profile of officers by experience and rank that satisfies agency needs and officer career aspirations. Police agencies often have little ability to assess their organization and environment, and they receive little guidance on how best to build and maintain their workforces. In this monograph, the authors seek to fill the gap of information available to police agencies through a survey on their recruitment and retention practices. The survey, sent to every U.S. police agency with at least 300 sworn officers, sought to document such characteristics as authorized and actual strength by rank, officer work and qualifications, compensation, and recruiting efforts. The authors used these data to provide an overview of current recruitment and retention practices, to describe how they affected police recruitment and personnel profiles, and to identify future research needs. Findings include that police compensation, city size, and crime rates had statistically significant effects on police recruiting. Advertising and recruiting incentives had little effect on the number of recruits. Cohort sizes and structures highlighted current and future personnel management challenges. To facilitate comparative and longitudinal analyses of police staffing, the authors recommend ongoing national data collection.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the need for increased counterterrorism (CT) and homeland security (HS) efforts at the federal, state, and local levels has taken the spotlight in public safety efforts. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, many law enforcement agencies (LEAs) shifted more resources toward developing CT and HS capabilities, and the federal government continues to support these efforts with grants provided through the Department of Homeland Security. This monograph examines the long-term adjustments that large urban LEAs have made to accommodate the focus on CT and HS, as well as the advantages and challenges associated with it. The study relies primarily on in-depth case studies of five large urban LEAs, as well as a review of federal HS grant programs and a quantitative analysis of the potential costs associated with shifting law enforcement personnel from traditional policing to focus on HS and CT functions. Major trends among the five case study LEAs include the creation of specialized departments and units, as well as an increased emphasis on information-sharing, which, nationwide, has led to the creation of fusion centers that serve as formal hubs for regional information-sharing networks. LEAs' HS and CT efforts are also greatly influenced by the restrictions and requirements associated with federal HS grant funding. Finally, using cost-of-crime estimates, it is possible to partially quantify the costs associated with LEAs' shifting of personnel away from traditional crime prevention toward CT and HS — there are also clear benefits associated with law enforcement's focus on CT and HS, but they are difficult to quantify, and this is posing a challenge for LEAs as the economic downturn puts pressure on public budgets.

Recruitment and retention of officers is an increasing challenge for police agencies in a time of increasing crime and homeland security demands and of decreasing resources in American cities. Many urban police agencies report particular difficulty in recruiting minority and female officers. To help address these challenges, the RAND Center on Quality Policing convened a National Summit on Police Recruitment and Retention in the Contemporary Urban Environment in June 2008. Speakers discussed changing police workforce issues, strategies being employed, lessons that could be learned from other organizations such as the military, and in-depth analyses of police recruiting and retention in selected cities. This report summarizes the presentations, discussions, and opinions offered by panelists at the summit. The discussions about current experiences represent the situation the law enforcement agencies found themselves in as of June 2008. The downturn in the economy in late 2008 and early 2009 has had a profound impact on the budgets of many local agencies, causing cuts deep enough to impede their ability to maintain their current workforces, let alone grow them. Nevertheless, the lessons provided in this report are still of value, because most of the challenges discussed at the summit remain and will likely become more important over time, irrespective of fluctuations in the economy.

In response to rising crime and violence in the early 2000s, Oakland, California, voters passed the Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act of 2004. Commonly referred to as Measure Y, it is a 10-year, nearly $20 million annual investment aimed at reducing violence through community-policing, violence-prevention, and other programs. Building on the first-year assessment of the program's implementation, this report examines the progress and effectiveness of the Measure Y–funded problem-solving officer (PSO) program, which adds 63 new officers to the force and deploys PSOs to community-policing beats. The assessment relied on a Web-based survey of current PSOs, PSO deployment data, official statistics on violent and property crime in each beat, and semistructured interviews and focus groups with Oakland Police Department staff. The results show that, although there has been much progress in implementing the program since the first-year evaluation, the statistical evidence does not support an association between the PSO program and a reduction in property and violent crime. Although it is possible that the program is not effective, it could be that positive outcomes of the program could not be captured by the evaluation, that the program encourages the reporting of crimes that would otherwise go unreported, or that implementation challenges preclude the program's ability to be effective. Of note, there appears to be somewhat limited interaction between PSOs and the other community violence-prevention programs created by Measure Y.

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U.S. communities depend on reliable, safe, and secure rail systems. Each weekday, more than 12 million passengers take to U.S. railways. Recent attacks on passenger-rail systems around the world highlight the vulnerability of rail travel and the importance of rail security for these passengers. The use of passenger rail and the frequency with which terrorists target it call for a commitment to analyzing and improving rail security in the United States. This book explains a framework for security planners and policymakers to use to guide cost-effective rail-security planning, specifically for the risk of terrorism. Risk is a function of threat (presence of terrorists with intent, weapons, and capability to attack), vulnerability (likelihood of damage at a target, given an attack), and consequences (nature and scale of damages if an attack succeeds). While effective security solutions may address all three components of risk, this book focuses on addressing vulnerabilities and limiting consequences, since these are the two components of risk most within the realm of rail-security personnel. The analysis is based on a notional rail system that characterizes rail systems typically found in the United States. The methodology presented is useful for planning rail-security options.

Click here for the press release. Human trafficking has garnered a significant and growing amount of attention from the U.S. government since the 1990s, culminating in the passage of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000. There is also a growing body of research on human trafficking, but most of it has focused on trying to show that human trafficking is a problem. Wilson and Dalton explore the extent and characteristics of concrete cases of human trafficking in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, as well as the awareness of and response to the problem by the justice systems and social service provider communities in the two cities. The authors summarize their content analysis of newspaper accounts as well as key respondent interviews that they conducted with criminal justice officials and social service providers in each site. These identified several cases of juvenile sex trafficking and forced prostitution in Toledo, as well as a smaller trafficking market centered on the forced labor of noncitizens in Columbus. Wilson and Dalton compare the two cities’ considerably different responses to human trafficking, and conclude with suggestions on how to raise awareness about human trafficking and improve the responses of the criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system, and social services to the problem.

 Since Hurricane Katrina, resignations from the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) have increased, and the department went more than a year without recruiting enough candidates to justify a police academy training course. This study presents practical recommendations for change that could help the NOPD improve recruiting and retention. Issues addressed include the lack of affordable post-Katrina housing, the fact that the families of many police officers no longer live in the New Orleans area, the destroyed departmental infrastructure, and a budget that does not provide enough resources to meet basic needs. The study focuses on compensation, including housing; the promotion process and the career management system; recruiting; the mix of officers and civilians; and ways to improve the morale of the NOPD. The recommendations, which are specifically tailored to the unique circumstances of the NOPD, include (1) using civilian employees, where appropriate, for jobs currently being performed by uniformed officers; (2) developing a proactive recruiting program; (3) offering some of the city’s housing stock in-kind to police officers or selling the property and using the proceeds to improve compensation; (4) increasing the frequency of promotion examinations; (5) eliminating the backlog of promotions to higher levels in the department; (6) restructuring compensation to attract recruits and retain serving officers; (7) establishing a first-responders charter school; and (8) rebuilding the police infrastructure to improve morale.

In response to rising crime and violence, Oakland voters passed Measure Y, the Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act of 2004, a 10-year initiative designed to facilitate community policing, foster violence prevention, and improve fire and paramedic service. This report assesses the progress of the community-policing and violence-prevention components of Measure Y. Not enough time has passed since the implementation of Measure Y to comprehensively assess its impact, so the report focuses primarily on the process of implementation. Subsequent evaluations will focus on the impact of Measure Y, community policing in Oakland, and the violence prevention programs funded by Measure Y. The early evidence on the implementation of the Measure Y community-policing program is not altogether positive. Deployment of problem-solving officers, which is the cornerstone of the community-policing initiative, has been delayed because of a lack of available officers, and community participation has been inadequate. The violence-prevention programs have generally been implemented according to plan, albeit in some cases with expected start-up delays. For the most part, those programs appear to be providing the services they are intended to provide. Based on these early findings and analyses, recommendations are made for improving the Measure Y programs and the city’s oversight of them.

For a review of this book, see Jones, Matthew (2007). Police Quarterly, Vol. 10. (2): 342-343.
Although law enforcement officials have long recognized the need to cooperate with the communities they serve, recent efforts to enhance performance and maximize resources have resulted in a more strategic approach to collaboration among police, local governments, and community members. The goal of these so-called "community policing" initiatives is to prevent neighborhood crime, reduce the fear of crime, and enhance the quality of life in communities. Despite the growing national interest in and support for community policing, the factors that influence an effective implementation have been largely unexplored. Drawing on data from nearly every major U.S. municipal police force, Community Policing in America is the first comprehensive study to examine how the organizational context and structure of police organizations impact the implementation of community policing. Jeremy Wilson’s book offers a unique theoretical framework within which to consider community policing, and identifies key internal and external factors that can facilitate or impede this process, including community characteristics, geographical region, police chief turnover, and structural complexity and control. It also provides a simple tool that practitioners, policymakers, and researchers can use to measure community policing in specific police organizations.

In 2002, the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD), the Fraternal Order of Police, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entered into a collaborative agreement. This agreement pledges its signatories (the parties) to collaborate in efforts to resolve social conflict, improve community relations, and avoid litigation. The agreement requires the CPD to implement a variety of changes, most notably the adoption of Community Problem-Oriented Policing (CPOP) as a strategy for addressing crime problems and engaging the community. Other provisions of the agreement require the CPD to establish a civilian complaint review process. The collaborative agreement incorporates a previous agreement between the CPD and the U.S. Department of Justice on use-of-force issues. The agreement specifies the need to evaluate achievement of its goals. In 2004, the parties contracted with RAND to conduct this evaluation. These goals are assessed through a variety of evaluation mechanisms, including surveys of citizens and of CPD officers; analyses of motor vehicle stops and of CPD staffing patterns; periodic observations of structured meetings between citizens and representatives of the CPD; and a review of CPD statistical compilations. The collaborative agreement requires an annual assessment of progress toward the agreement’s goals. This report is the first such annual review.

In a nation-building operation, outside states invest much of their resources in establishing and maintaining the host country’s police, internal security forces, and justice system. Strengthening all these elements is crucial for achieving sustainable law and order. This book examines in detail the post-Cold War reconstruction efforts of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, three major cases in which the United States and its allies have attempted to reconstruct security institutions. It then compares them with similar but smaller projects in Panama, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and East Timor. In doing so, the authors make three main arguments. First, establishing security during the “golden hour” — the period immediately following major combat operations — should be the most significant concern of policymakers. Second, building a functioning justice system is a critical and often overlooked task of rebuilding security. Third, the authors provide rough guidelines for successfully reconstructing security after a major combat operation, including recommended force-to-population ratios, financial assistance, and duration of reconstruction. For future policy recommendations, the authors encourage decisionmakers to consider such principal elements as negotiating formal peace treaties or surrenders, establishing of comprehensive post-conflict doctrine, and using outcome-based metrics to measure success.
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One aspect of combating terrorism that is often discussed but seldom examined in detail concerns the overlap of intelligence and law enforcement and the role of state and local law enforcement agencies as the ultimate “eyes and ears” in the war on terrorism. This report helps fill that gap by examining how state and local law enforcement agencies conducted and supported counterterrorism intelligence activities after 9/11. It analyzes data from a 2002 survey of law enforcement preparedness in the context of intelligence and reports the results of case studies showing how eight local law enforcement agencies handle intelligence operations. Finally, it suggests ways that the job of gathering and analyzing intelligence might best be shared among federal, state, and local agencies.