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A Tale of Two EBPers

A while back I read an article that referenced CAN-SEBP's work and suggested very little work has been undertaken to increase the number of evidence based initiatives here in Canada. This is actually not the case, nor has it ever been. The error is likely the result of two factors: 1. The author relied solely on information from our website, which only included a couple of projects being done by academics, and; 2. We don't publicly advertise our research creation work with police services. As of today, there's something like 35 ongoing research projects we have either brokered for other researchers or with which our team is directly engaged. Plus, there's at least an additional 12-15 projects that have already wrapped up since we started in 2015. That ain't a bad run for a small volunteer network with no money. It's also the not the sum of everything we do to generate research. We've also been actively working with several different agencies across Canada to embed EBP (evidence based policing). I just don't usually talk about it publicly. Why? It's a trust thing. We're not working with atomic secrets or Q-level conspiracies, but I like to work in an environment in which I can speak freely and so can my partners. And that takes trust. Flapping my piehole in The Toronto Star, or, WORSE yet, somebody quoting one of the many, unintentionally crazy things I've said, tests that trust ... and I'd generally rather not. That said, there's a lot of really important, interesting and educational work going on to embed EBP within police services, information that people would probably really benefit from learning. So, in the interests of better police science, I'm going to break with our tradition of silence to start sharing some of those lessons in this and future blogs. I've asked the Chiefs of two of those police services for their blessing and I was tickled pink to receive immediate and positive responses. So, if you get some cool new ideas, you can thank Chief John Pare of London Police Service and Chief Del Manak of the Victoria Police Department for their generosity, as well as the enthusiasm, kindness and generosity of their respective services. Now let's get started! My totally unsolicited observation is that LPS and VicPD could be sister agencies. They actually have a lot of things in common, including the fact they each took a similar approach to embedding EBP: creating internal working groups. While both groups include officers, crime analysts and other civilian employees, the LPS group is largely drawn from the patrol side of the house, whereas VicPD is more of a mix. What members in both groups share is they self-selected: group members CHOSE to be part of the group out of interest. This is critical. The other thing they have in common is that both groups are supported by an external policing researcher (me) and her team (Lorna, Hillary and Jacek). Going back to the issue of trust, we didn't just show up and say, "hey, VicPD, can we come in and embed some EBP? We have experts!". We had already conducted research in both agencies, led EBP training sessions, and spent a significant amount of time building the foundations necessary to create a solid partnership. What does the relationship look like in terms of conducting research through the working groups? From my end: a bit like graduate supervision. I supervise the project from the research side (providing overall guidance and some methodological structure to the team), but from the operational/administrative side a senior officer provides the "on the ground" authority and working structure to ensure things get done, whilst the EBP group will actually do the research. Writing up results becomes a group effort with assistance from my graduate team members. So, what are they working on? LPS is in the process of developing approximately 3 or 4 smaller, mixed methodological projects on missing persons, including a scoping analysis of the research literature and a look at updating risk factors (predictive tools can go out of date pretty quickly as social and demographic factors shift). VicPD is working on a larger mixed methods study of the growing complexity of sexual assault investigation files. We know there's increased paperwork in policing, but what other factors might also be contributing to challenges in investigating these types of cases? The benefit of working out a methodological approach, we hope, will be to also develop a better understanding of other types of police investigational work. More to come in the weeks following ...

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