Excerpt from Summit on the Economics of Policing
Curt Griffiths shared his knowledge on best practices in the area of civilianization, private and tiered policing based on his research.
Dr. Griffiths spoke to the current state of police research in Canada. He indicated that there is no substantive body of evidence-based research, and very little connection between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. Research is done in silos and there is no formal mechanism to share and disseminate new research to government and police decision makers.
Funding decisions are being made for Canadian police services with limited access to supporting information or evidence-based data. As a result, decisions with significant consequences for policing services often turn on politics and personalities. Making policy decisions in an information vacuum can have very significant, negative outcomes for communities. Dr. Griffiths warned that without information and research, it is impossible to take an evidence-based approach to policing or to understand the consequences of the approaches and strategies that are being adopted. He highlighted community constable programs that have been put in place in the US and the UK to help increase police visibility, and emphasized the importance of evaluating these programs, identifying the lessons learned and highlighting the effectiveness and value added of such programs. He argued that the same is required in Canada. Although certain positions in policing have been civilianized or police services have contracted out to private companies, we do not have the data that demonstrates the long-term benefits, financial or otherwise to these changes. Dr. Griffiths points to the importance of these types of studies as a necessity in order for governments and police services to make responsible operational decisions.
Policing has many nuanced benefits for the community that are often difficult to measure and quantify. Dr. Griffiths noted the pressing need to establish a national research capacity to improve the knowledge base on community safety, policing practice, policy and strategy, to foster and disseminate research findings and to make information on evidence-based practices widely available.