The Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) is a collaborative effort among the Bureau of Justice Assistance, national training and technical assistance partners, state and local law enforcement agencies, and researchers. It is designed to assist agencies with identifying innovative and evidence-based solutions to effectively and efficiently tackle chronic crime problems in their jurisdictions.
SPI is a BJA–sponsored initiative that supports law enforcement agencies in building evidence-based, data-driven law enforcement tactics and strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical. SPI represents a strategic approach that helps police agencies figure out what works in crime prevention and crime reduction initiatives.
With the assistance of CNA (BJA's partner in SPI training and technical assistance), SPI sites—law enforcement agencies and research partners—collect and analyze data to devise evidence-based solutions to target serious crime problems, such as street robberies, substance abuse, repeat violent offenders, retaliatory violence, or gun violence. Lessons learned and research-tested practices are then documented l, and these proven policing innovations are shared with police agencies nationwide.
Core SPI Practices
Five goals guide SPI: creating sustainable partnerships between law enforcement and researchers; using technology, intelligence, and data in innovative ways; enhancing collaboration within law enforcement agencies, with external agencies, and with the communities these agencies serve; promoting evidence-based practices in law enforcement agencies; and advancing science-based policing practice.
To achieve these goals, SPI sites engage in five key Policing Innovation practices:
Performance Measurement and Research Partnerships. A foundational element of SPI is decision making based on what does and does not work in policing. SPI agencies achieve this by partnering with researchers to engage in systematic, rigorous research to expand the knowledge base about effective policing strategies and support decision making about resource allocation.
Strategic Targeting. Successful SPI initiatives require analysis that helps agencies focus on the small percentage of people and places that account for large percentages of crime, victimization, and public harm.
Making Better Use of Intelligence and Other Data and Information Systems. SPI helps police agencies build capacity to make more efficient use of data, intelligence, and information resources. SPI sites use data that go beyond calls for service, offenses reported, arrests, and complaints. They also use police intelligence, as well as research data (e.g., offender- or location-based studies), data from external entities (e.g., hospital, school, and social services databases), and data from external justice agencies (e.g., probation and parole) to develop their crime reduction strategies.
Managing and Sustaining Organizational Change. Successfully sustaining organizational gains and changes that result from new approaches is a challenge for all complex organizations, especially for law enforcement agencies. Thus, SPI sites prepare the organization to adopt more effective practices so that evidence based approaches are sustained through training, revised policies and directives, improved communication, and establishment of interdisciplinary working groups.
Outreach and Collaboration. Public education, outreach, and buy-in are critical to both success and sustainment of crime reduction initiatives over the long term. Thus, SPI emphasizes the importance of communication and outreach at all levels of the law enforcement organization and with external government, criminal justice, and community stakeholders.
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