FAU and the Port St. Lucie Police Department Receive First ‘Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award’
Award recognizes research partnerships among law enforcement agencies and university-based researchers to improve police operations and public safety.
BOCA RATON, FL (November 20, 2008) — Florida Atlantic University researcher Dr. Rachel Boba, assistant professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs and the Port St. Lucie Police Department (PSLPD) were recently awarded the first “Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award” by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Sprint-Nextel. The award was given for their innovative and continuing research partnership to improve police operations and public safety.
This award is the result of nearly five years of applied research, numerous publications, and two federal grants for an approach to reduce and prevent crime, conceived by Boba and titled “Integrated Model of Problem Solving, Analysis, and Accountability.” The approach is unique because unlike previous community policing and problem-oriented policing programs, it seeks to infuse a problem solving approach, crime analysis, and an accountability structure into the day-to-day operations of the police department.
“For problem solving to become truly institutionalized, it has to be part of the organization’s mission and the day-to-day work of the agency,” said Boba. “It can’t just be carried out by a specialist squad or relegated to the lower ranks.”
In 2003, Boba, along with several other policing scholars, was awarded a grant by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to institutionalize problem solving and analysis in several police agencies. Working together, Boba and the PSLPD reviewed practices within the department and developed strategies to improve daily operations related to crime prevention and reduction.
Implementation of the model in the PSLPD included establishing a steering committee, improving data systems and data quality, hiring two qualified trained crime analysts, acquiring analysis software and training, and conducting training for the entire department on the model, analysis products, crime opportunity theory, and expectations of personnel.
As a result of implementing and making routine the integrated model, the PSLPD has observed:
· An increase in the department’s crime analysis capabilities
· Significant improvement in communications among different divisions including patrol criminal investigations and crime prevention
· Significant improvement in the number of responses, their consistency and coordination among the department’s divisions
· Improved accountability at all levels within the department
“Addressing crime through systematic pattern analysis and problem solving has allowed us to be more effective in our responses to crime,” said Detective Lieutenant Roberto Santos of the PSLPD. “We have also received positive feedback from the community.”
The PSLPD is a large agency (as of June 2008, there are approximately 256 officers) on the east coast of Florida approximately 120 miles north of Miami with a population of more than 160,000, covering 114 square miles. There has been a significant growth in the number of residences, commercial buildings, and officers in the police department. The city is primarily made up of mid-level single family homes, and the Part I crime rate averages around 2,900 per 100,000.
“Our biggest challenge with the model is what we considered ‘normal resistance’ to change in any police organization and the time needed to engage personnel to help them understand and carry out the aspects of the model,” said Boba.
Boba received additional funding in 2007 from the COPS Office to share details of the model, the PSLPD evaluation results, considerations and challenges of implementation, and examples of practices with the entire policing community through the publication of a guidebook and training. Because of PSLPD successes, other police agencies have shown interest in the model with some implementing the model and others requesting training and guidance for future implementation.
Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serv es more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges: College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Barry Kaye College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.