The COPS Office recently announced a number of Community Policing Development grants for projects aiming to help advance the practice of community policing. One of these awards was made to Roger Williams University (RWU), working collaboratively with the Providence, Rhode Island, Police Department, to launch a new Teaching Police Department Initiative (TPDI).
Using the model of the teaching hospital, where medical knowledge continuously evolves, residents train alongside skilled physicians in a professional setting, and new cures and treatments are found, TPDI intends to help advance the “Profession of Policing” by transforming police departments in New England—and subsequently nationally—into working laboratories for conceptualizing, developing, testing and implementing new crime reduction and crime prevention strategies, as well as fostering a culture of life long learning for officers. Centered at RWU in a partnership with the Providence Police Department (PPD), the TPDI will combine the best of academic instruction with evidence-based policing, informed by pertinent research on innovations and best practices. The TPDI will serve as a test site for innovative police department organizational designs, operating policies/procedures, and performance measurement tools.
This two-year pilot program will be led by the Justice System Training and Research Institute (JSTRI) at RWU and the PPD, with assistance from: Brown University Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island; the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, Rhode Island; and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, New York. It will support a comprehensive effort to build a systemic model of professional training and leadership development, combined with formalized exchange programs, fellowships, and internships to bring effective strategies to all divisions within a police department, and to police departments in other communities throughout New England. Subsequently, the model will be disseminated nationally, with “teaching police departments” developed in other regions. The TPDI intends to have a long lasting impact on the profession of policing and serve as a legacy initiative, where progressive, high performing current and emerging leaders learn from and inspire each other, as well as the next generation of leaders in the field.Through the TPDI, police departments will be able to experience an innovative approach to leadership development—effectively and efficiently developing, implementing, and improving best practice crime reduction and crime prevention strategies to not only stop rising crime rates, but to once again reduce and prevent new crime from occurring. A key element of this innovative model, and the processes it will incorporate, is the development and improvement of critical thinking skills for police leaders engaged in this endeavor, while also fostering in the leaders a values-driven policing culture. The TPDI is determined to be a transformative model which will result in building police departments that encourage values-driven and evidence-based decision making.