"And bad mistakes ... I've made a few"
When CAN-SEBP started in 2015, the policing research landscape in Canada was pretty bleak. With the exception of some academic activity here and there, there really wasn't a lot going on. Why? Because, as I've detailed elsewhere, successive Canadian federal governments sliced funds for criminal justice research. There are three exceptions to what I've just said: - the feds do provide pockets of limited funding on special topics These initiatives always sound great, and they generate lots of positive media attention, but it's debatable how much quality research they actually produce. A classic example of this is the funding for terrorism research in Canada: millions spent on research on what is, statistically speaking, a fairly limited threat. Not only that, but following the Kanishka initiative and now this new funding centre, not a lot of hands-on applied work has come out that is being shown to produce results. - funding through established research councils It's worth noting that criminal justice research gets a very tiny share of the pie and applied research competes against critical and theoretical work. Further, given that reviewers and committee members are drawn from not only criminology, but also law and other social sciences, it is not clear that applied research gets any breaks. Certainly, funding totals do not suggest this to be the case. - individual agencies, such as Public Safety Canada and the Department of National Defense - as well as some provinces - do have funding pools for research Unfortunately, competitions for these funds are usually on timelines that do not work very well for academic researchers and thus a lot of this money goes to contractors. When money does go to academics it tends to be either capped at $25K (PSC small funding applications) or require matching contributions that many policing researchers have difficulty scaring up. Try doing decent research for less than $25K. What does this all mean? It means that there are not enough applied policing researchers in Canada with the skills and knowledge required for much of the work needed. And those too few, are tapped out. And, yet, my phone keeps ringing. "Do you know anybody ...?" When we started in 2015, I knew the situation was lousy, but I thought if we focused some of our energies on providing expertise to services through grad students and their supervisors, we could kill 3 birds with one stone. We could: 1. generate more research; 2. increase opportunities for police services to skill up on research, and; 3. increase the skilled academic labour pool. And, to some extent, it's worked a bit. But not nearly enough. My well-known predilection for brutal honesty requires me to also be brutally honest about my own mistakes and challenges. This plan isn't working. Without significant investment from governments, there is only so much that a volunteer network can do. Besides, I was wrong. What we should have done is focused 100% of my energies - and those of the wonderfully talented and amazing individuals who make CAN-SEBP run - on INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLICE SERVICES TO BECOME BETTER CONSUMERS AND CREATORS OF RESEARCH. We need EBP Champs. And that's why CAN-SEBP is going through a metamorphosis (or strategic re-visioning, if you prefer). We're getting out of the service side - offering expert advice and "matchmaking", as I used to call it only to watch some police leaders cringe. Our focus will instead be on delivering easy-to-use products that empower police practitioners and staff to engage with research at whatever level they are at - creating EBP Champs. What products, you ask? Here's a few: Square One - currently in development; this is a new page on our site that will provide a simple to use assessment of the evidence base for various policing programs Webinars - we will continue to host a monthly webinar with experts and subject matter experts that will be available on our site and as a podcast 5 Minute Videos - fun and easy to follow, these videos introduce basic research concepts in a 'how-to-get started' format Advanced Tutorial Series - this is for anyone who would like a detailed tutorial on how to use free or low-cost software for different projects - from systematic reviews to coding data EBP Online Training - we are working with the talented folks at VPD to create an online training module to provide a detailed overview of EBP fundamentals.