In the current economy, many law enforcement agencies are facing personnel layoffs and resource reductions while struggling with chronic crime. Developing tactics and strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical—as measured by reduced crime and higher case closure rates—would be of great benefit to law enforcement agencies in this era of budget constraints and limited staffing. The goal of the Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) is to identify those tactics, practices, and strategies.
To do so, SPI seeks either to build on the concepts of offender-based and place-based ("hotspot") policing by replicating evidence-based practices or to encourage exploration of new, unique solutions to public safety problems and criminogenic circumstances. Several authoritative longitudinal projects, in the United States and the United Kingdom, have demonstrated that a small number of offenders commit a disproportionate amount of crime. It is also well-documented that crime reports and calls for service often cluster predominantly at specific locations or in narrow, easily defined areas. While demonstrating that random patrol and rapid response do not measurably reduce crime, substantial research also demonstrates that place-based policing can reduce violent crime and neighborhood disorder.
These findings reveal that effective policing requires a tightly focused, collaborative approach that is measurable; based on sound, detailed analysis; and includes policies and procedures that promote and support accountability.
Under national competitive solicitations, BJA has awarded SPI grants to over 30 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. These agencies were selected to create a sampling that is diverse in the size of its agencies and in the type of crime problem or criminogenic circumstances under consideration. BJA required applicants to enlist a research partner, demonstrate the ability to collect and analyze data, and incorporate realistic and meaningful performance measures to assess the effectiveness of their efforts. Each of these sites are focusing on fundamental research and analysis questions, based on the SARA model.
BJA also awarded a grant to the CNA Corporation to assist SPI agencies in developing and implementing strategies and, based on the availability of funds, provide training and technical assistance to other law enforcement agencies in coordination with BJA.