On Friday, November 30th, the California Policy Lab (CPL) hosted colleagues from the law enforcement and research communities for a conference on policing innovation and reform. Over the course of the day, participants heard from local and national law enforcement leaders, researchers, practitioners, and subject matter experts about the challenges of implementing policing reform on the ground, how they measure success, and how they develop evidence to guide future policy decisions.
The day began with opening remarks from CPL-UCLA’s Executive Director, Janey Rountree, and UCLA’s Dean of Social Sciences, Darnell Hunt. Both spoke about the critical need for partnerships between practitioners and researchers to catalyze innovation in policing. Their comments set the stage for the conference’s first panel, which highlighted examples of successful partnerships, entitled “Collaborative Research Partnerships: Leveraging Data and Science to Inform Policing Innovations”.
During the first panel, participants heard first from Chief Jonathan Lewin, of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Technical Services. Chief Lewin discussed the transformational impact of Chicago’s Strategic Decision Support Centers—rooms in which police officers and analysts work together to use insights from data analysis to target resources for preventing gun violence. The Cook County State Attorney’s Office also shared their experience partnering with the research community, by discussing the launch of a new data portal to advance transparency and the creation of “Hacking for Justice” trainings. Participants also heard from Kristen Mahoney, Deputy Director for Policy at the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Deputy Director Mahoney shared lessons from DOJ’s Public Safety Partnerships program, including the importance of exchange programs for law enforcement to learn about new tools for improving crime fighting. Finally, CPL affiliates Dr. Steven Raphael of UC Berkeley and Dr. Aaron Chalfin of the University of Pennsylvania shared findings from their research on foot beats in San Francisco, and police pursuits in Los Angeles, respectively.
Following the first panel, a distinguished group of Police Chiefs assembled during for a lunchtime session about the challenges and opportunities encountered by leaders in the field of policing. Superintendent Eddie Johnson from the Chicago Police Department spoke about strategies for improving morale and building community trust, emphasizing the importance of showing personnel you care through action, and of taking time to listen to divergent perspectives. Chief Anne Kirkpatrick of the Oakland Police Department also spoke about the role of leadership in strengthening community trust, noting for the audience that “Leadership is about followership. People follow leaders. They obey rank, but rank is not leadership”. Additionally, Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Sean Malinowski spoke about LAPD’s experience working with CPL on quick turnaround projects that have a meaningful impact on the Department’s policies and operations.
The second session of the day focused on building for the future, highlighting strategies for improving hiring, training, and officer support. The session opened with a presentation by Lizzie Peters of the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). Peters spoke about supporting the professionalization of policing, including MOPAC’s efforts to put evidence-based practices into action. Dr. Jyoti Belur of the UCL Institute for Global City Policing also discussed best practices in police training, and in particular, efforts to ensure that police departments are representative of the communities they serve. CPL-UCLA’s own Nefara Riesch presented next on her research with CPL Affiliate Dr. Elizabeth Linos. Their research on LAPD recruitment demonstrated that applying insights from behavioral science to communications with candidates can make an impact on persistence in police hiring processes—an important finding as departments focus on recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent. Additionally, participants heard from Superintendent Richard Smith of the London Metropolitan Police Services about his work building the case for direct entry into leadership roles in British policing. Dr. Steven Sultan of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department provided final remarks and shared his perspective on the unique benefits of embedding psychological services within law enforcement agencies.
The day’s final session built on the sessions preceding it, with a panel on strategies to measure, improve, and earn public trust and cooperation. Superintendent Jon Simpson of the London Metropolitan Police Services discussed how surveying community members can improve customer service in policing, through their “Rate Your Police Constable” program. Next, Sujeet Rao of Elucd shared his work using technology to measure public sentiment in partnership with police departments. Following this, participants heard from Dr. Emily Owens of the University of California, Irvine about promising findings from her research on the impact of supervision on reducing officer use of force. Additionally, Dr. Rebecca Neuster of the Vera Institute discussed Compstat360, a tool used by law enforcement that integrates data-driven crime monitoring with community needs and feedback. Finally, San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascon, offered his views on how police departments can better empathize with community members, by understanding how certain actions might be perceived as oppressive.
The conference concluded with remarks from LAPD Police Chief Mike Moore, who emphasized that “academic relationships are what we [law enforcement] need”. Indeed, the sessions throughout the day made this case, showcasing the tremendous potential inherent in partnerships between the research and law enforcement communities. Given the vital work done by law enforcement every day, and the critical lens through which this work is viewed, this type of collaboration is now more important and urgent than ever before.