Calif. police ramping up evidence-based policing

Research will help the department focus its efforts to benefit the community


By Jesse B. Gill
Redlands Daily Facts

REDLANDS, Calif. — The Police Department is ramping up its efforts to use a scientific approach in suppressing crime.

On Dec. 6, police corporals, sergeants and lieutenants filed into the Carriage House at Prospect Park for training in evidence-based police techniques. Dr. Cynthia Lum traveled from George Mason University near Washington D.C. to train the Redlands police personnel.

"(Evidence-based policing) is basically applying research into the application of policing," said Detective Ben Zimmerman.

Police Chief Jim Bueermann said the concept of evidence-based policing is modeled after medical research.

Medical research forms largely-accepted opinions about what does and does not work on patients, Bueermann said. Evidence-based policing does the same thing, except with what works in policing specific communities.

"I'm very excited about it," he said.

The department recently hired a criminologist thanks to a U.S. Department of Justice grant. He is now undergoing a routine background check before starting work with the department. After his background check is complete, Zimmerman and Sgt. Rachel Tolber will work with the criminologist to put the evidence-based policing techniques into practice.

The criminologist will help the department find crime-fighting programs that are the right fit for Redlands, said Cmdr. Tom Fitzmaurice. And those programs will help the department focus its efforts in ways that will best benefit the community.

"A lot that's done in policing is done because of tradition, because it's worked before, or because it worked for one department," Fitzmaurice said. "They think that because it worked for (one department), they think it will work for everybody when they haven't evaluated the programs to see why it works."

ESRI mapping software has also allowed the department to take its research techniques to a new level, Bueermann said. The software changed the department's focus from beats and districts to addresses and streets where data shows crime is most likely to occur.

"Their software allows us to do things that we would never have been able to do in the past," Bueermann said. "We didn't have the ability to look at crime data the way we do now."

The concept of evidenced-based policing is not new to the Police Department, Zimmerman said. Bueermann has stressed an academic approach to police work for years.

"He's a very innovative person," Zimmerman said.

Copyright 2010 Redlands Daily Facts

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