What Research is Cooking at CAN-SEBP HQ
We here at CAN-SEBP Headquarters remain as busy as ever. As you know, we're currently working on projects in London and Victoria. What you might not know is, counter to the perception we only ever work in Ontario (like Victoria, Ontario), we also have projects going in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, plus a national study on missing persons, another one on diffusion of innovation, with another national study on validating an EBP assessment tool for services set to roll out this fall. Why don't we always report on this stuff? Simple: We don't generally talk about our work in specific details unless we have the permission of the agency involved. This is for the same reason I don't do media, it's not up to me to talk about what our partnering agencies are doing. That said, I'm not opposed to talking in general terms about the three national studies we're working on and why they're important to the policing community, so here goes: National missing persons study Despite the fact that missing persons is one of the areas of police work that generates a significant volume of the calls for service, it is also one of the most under-studied areas of Canadian policing research. To put this in context: I found one published journal article on a Canadian study on this topic and it wasn't anything particularly useful. I predict this project alone will produce a tonne of important work that will be valuable for Canadian police services. For example, this is a multi-part project includes: - interviews with missing persons coordinators, frontline officers, investigators and Search and Rescue team members that focuses on the strengths and challenges of current approaches. What do we know so far: a lot of the material taught is based on US data, doesn't really tap into the differences between urban and rural settings, and that risk assessment tools are frequently useless or outdated because of demographic shifts. - quantitative and qualitative analysis of closed files. What do we know so far: that individuals who are reported missing multiple times tend to be associated with those locations which produce the heaviest call volumes. So, focusing on places will net you more return on investment than focusing exclusively on repeat missing persons.
- analysis on the problem of elderly "wanderers". A lot of the literature in this area focuses on people who wander from nursing homes; however, demographic shifts mean more adults are staying in their homes longer and so we need to identify the issues and better educate the public on this problem. - geographical analysis of closed files using GIS and quantitative methods to chart how far people go when they go missing. What do we know so far: the vast majority of cases in the city studied did not leave the city and returned on their own. When they went missing outside of the City, most were located nearby. However, some did make it across the country or to other countries. Future research should look at whether there are identifiable patterns for those cases. We are actively soliciting both interviews and/or anonymized data sets on closed missing files from any agency wishing to participate. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Diffusion of innovation study When we talk about embedding evidence based policing, the question that often arises is where in an organization should you begin? Often these conversations revolve around questions of rank or internal influence. While these are both important considerations, we want to challenge conventional thinking by testing a model found in business studies: the diffusion of innovation. This model focuses on different segments of a market to see how ideas and/or new technologies are adopted and spread. The key markets are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards and resisters. The theory is: if we can identify and get early adopters to convince the early majority that EBP is worthwhile, then EBP will spread and become more central to police decision-making. However, first we need to see if the model works, and then be able to identify and target our early adopters. And, if it does work, then police services will also have a better idea to communicate and spread ideas within their own organizations (because, you know, emailed memos aren't really the best way to go, just sayin'). - national survey currently online with a series of scaled questions that will allow us to test the model. If it works, we might be able to expand it to different other types of innovations. The survey can be found at and is open to any serving police employee (sworn and civilian): https://uwo.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d12rRv1yGq8Qxlb EBP Assessment Tool As part of our LEADS Agencies Canada project, in which we try to embed EBP within four smaller agencies, we needed an assessment tool. Fortunately, our friends at the U.S. National Institute of Justice (Dr. Gary Cordner) had invented one and generously allowed us to use it to create a baseline assessment. We think it is such an useful tool that we want to try to validate it using both Canadian and U.S. samples. If it works, all police agencies across Canada will have a set of measures for determining just "how evidence based they are" in a variety of different areas of policing. - international survey of select police organizations (matched for size and other characteristics) to test the validity (as in, does the tool what it's supposed to do; that is, tell us how EBP a police service actually is and in what ways). This project is in its infancy, but we are hopeful to roll it out with U.S. researchers in the late fall.