News and Announcements

Crime Analyst Receives IACA Bulletin Contest Award

Syracuse, NY, October 16, 2017 – Finn Institute Crime Analyst Leia Scimé-Stickles, working on-site at the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center, received an award from the International Association of Crime Analysts’ (IACA) annual analytical products contest. Ms. Scimé-Stickles’ bulletin providing intelligence regarding parolees on-scene during a shots fired incident took first place in the Intelligence Products category. Congratulations, Leia!

Institute Research at the Annual Conference of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE)

September 13, 2017 – Rob Worden, Sarah McLean and Kelly Becker presented “Police Early Intervention Systems: The State of the Art” at that twenty-third annual NACOLE conference. The conference brings together civilian oversight practitioners, law enforcement officials, researchers, policy makers, and academics. The conference provided a forum for Institute researchers to share findings from their NIJ-funded project around best practices in EI systems and to exchange ideas with others interested in the further development and management of EI systems.

Lead Crime Analyst Co-Presents at IACA Conference

September 13, 2017 – Finn Institute Lead Crime Analyst Anne-Laure DelCerro and Albany Police Department Crime Analyst Supervisor Matthew Zacharewicz, both of the Albany Crime Analysis Center, co-presented “Breaking the Fourth Wall in Excel” at the International Association of Crime Analysts’ Annual Training Conference in New Orleans, LA.

Schenectady Police Department Partners with the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. on Police Responses to Dual Role Victims

October 20, 2016 – The Schenectady Police Department and the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. will partner on a study of police interactions with victims of violence. The project will be supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice

The study will examine how police officers and detectives respond to the incidents that involve “dual-role victims” – victims who are also known to police as offenders. Research has shown that people who are involved in criminal behavior are also more likely to be victimized; the overlap between victims and offenders, particularly in violence, is substantial. Little is known, however, about law enforcement practices with respect to dual-role victims, compared with other victims, or about the practices that maximize victim cooperation and/or help-seeking. Finn Institute researchers will estimate these differences – in offense classification and reclassification, in investigative case assignment and actions, and in patrol officers’ behavior toward victims. In addition, researchers will give victims of violent offending voice by interviewing such victims to learn what police practices and behaviors are important in their eyes. Finn Institute Associate Director Sarah McLean said, “Given the paucity of empirical evidence in this area, it is our hope that findings and methods from this study will serve to stimulate and support further research in other jurisdictions, and, by doing so, police practice can be guided by research-based policy, procedures and training.”

The Schenectady Police Department and the John F. Finn Institute previously partnered on a study of procedural justice in policing, which was also funded by NIJ. McLean added, “We are pleased to work together once again to conduct research that may serve to point the way toward better outcomes – greater cooperation in investigation and prosecution, better follow-up in seeking assistance in the aftermath of violence victimization – through more evidence-based practices.”

Institute Research by the Book

October 12, 2016 – Mirage of Police Reform, by Institute Director Rob Worden and Associate Director Sarah McLean, will be published by the University of California Press in 2017. Based on an Institute project conducted in the Schenectady and Syracuse police departments, the book argues that the relief for the current crisis in police-community relations that is promised by contemporary prescriptions for police reform is illusory. Worden and McLean challenge the proposition that the public would better trust the police, and feel a greater obligation to comply and cooperate with police, if police-citizen interactions were marked by higher levels of procedural justice by police.

They further maintain that the procedural justice model of reform, like a number of other police reforms, is likely to bear a weak connection to street-level practice by police; instead, they hold, police organizations are susceptible to the adoption of reforms that satisfy public demands but are not compatible with the work of the organization as officers define and understand it. “It’s not that reform is impossible,” Worden explains, “but proposed reforms have to be carefully assessed in terms of their practicality on the street, where police work is done.”

The ambiguities, uncertainties, and threats that police confront in dealing with people and their problems also arise in reform. McLean said that “the meaning and implications of reform are subject to interpretation by officers, and our research showed that ‘procedural justice’ and ‘customer service’ do not mean the same thing to all officers. For some officers and their supervisors, procedural justice is common sense. For others, a push for better customer service is a betrayal by the administration – it’s seen as putting the community ahead of officers.”

Worden points out that in both of the study departments, police performed well in terms of procedural justice and citizen satisfaction, leaving only a little room for improvement. In addition, the actions of officers did not readily translate into citizens’ perceptions. “For a sample of more than 400 police-citizen encounters about which we surveyed the citizens,” Worden said, “we had independent, trained observers code features of police officers’ and citizens’ behavior according to a structured protocol. We found that the procedural justice of officers’ actions bore a weak relationship to the judgments that citizens made about procedural justice. As previous research suggested, the procedural justice that citizens see is shaped by their prior attitudes toward police more than it is by the justice with which police act.”

The book will be available in conventional print form and, in addition, an e-book will be available free of charge. See http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520292413.

Crime Analyst Receives IACA Bulletin Contest Award

Albany, NY, September 29, 2016 – Crime Analyst Nadja Fuentes, working on-site at the Albany Crime Analysis Center, received an award from the International Association of Crime Analysts’ (IACA) annual bulletin contest. Ms. Fuentes’s bulletin analyzing larcenies took first place in the Statistical Reports category. Congratulations, Nadja!

Finn Institute Chosen as Benificiary of “Hannaford Helps”

June 1, 2016 – The Colonie Hannaford has chosen the Finn Institute as the beneficiary of its “Hannaford Helps” reusable bag program for July. During the month, $1 will be donated to the Institute with each purchase of a reusable bag at the Colonie Hannaford.  See http://hannaford.bags4mycause.com/ for more information.  Institute director Rob Worden said “We’re honored by this expression of community support, and we are very grateful to the store management.”

Institute Research at the NACOLE Academic Symposium

April 22, 2016 – Rob Worden and Sarah McLean presented “Measuring, Managing, and Enhancing Procedural Justice in Policing: Promise and Pitfalls” at the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) Academic Symposium at John Jay College in New York. The symposium attracted police oversight practitioners from across the country.

Photo by Cameron McEllhiney (https://twitter.com/CMcellhiney).

Worden and McLean’s symposium paper can be found here.  A complete list of the presentations at the symposium can be found here: http://www.nacole.org/building_public_trust.

Institute Research at the Criminal Justice Conference

April 1, 2016 – The Institute’s latest work evaluating the implementation and impact of Syracuse Truce, a focused deterrence initiative, was shared at the Research and Pictorial Showcase at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, in Denver, Colorado. “Gangs, Groups, Networks, and Deterrence,” by Rob Worden, Sarah McLean, Andy Wheeler, and Kelly Becker, shows that Truce reduced gang-related shootings by about 40 percent in its first 17 months, and by more than 20 percent in its second 17 months.  The poster can be found here.

Kelly and Rob are shown with the poster at the Showcase.

Institute Surveys of Public Attitudes Toward Police

February 19, 2016 – Institute research analyst Caitlin Dole was interviewed by Time Warner Cable News about the Institute’s surveys of public attitudes toward the police in Capital District cities: TWCNews.

Finn Institute to Partner on Albany LEAD initiative

January 29, 2016 – The Institute has joined many other public and community organizations in Albany’s new initiative, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which provides for pre-arrest diversion of eligible offenders with a history of alcohol, drug, or mental health problems, and for a service infrastructure to which diverted offenders can be referred. Seattle pioneered the program in 2011, and Albany is the third city to adopt it. Currently in a pre-implementation planning stage, Albany is preparing to launch the program in the next few months.
With support from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Institute is conducting a process evaluation, and will also seek sponsors for an extended process and outcome evaluation. Institute director Rob Worden said “The preliminary results from Seattle show that this harm reduction initiative reduces recidivism at the same time that it saves public resources. On its face, it is a sensible approach to thorny problems. We’re excited to be a part of the initiative in Albany, and we hope that our evaluation will be able to contribute to learning how the program can be strengthened as it is implemented to maximize its effectiveness, and also help other jurisdictions benefit from Albany’s experience.”

Click on the following links for additional information about the LEAD initiative: TimesUnion 12/16/15, TimesUnion 6/25/15, News10 6/25/15, AlbanyPoliceDeptFB 12/15/15, DrugPolicyNews 6/24/15, Vice 6/2/15

Finn Institute to Partner with Schenectady and Utica on Group Violence Intervention

January 20, 2016 – The Institute will provide technical assistance to partners in Utica and in Schenectady to support their efforts to implement the Group Violence Intervention (GVI). The Institute will guide problem analysis designed to enhance local understanding of the nature and extent of group and gun violence. This problem analysis will support data driven decision making around the design and implementation of GVI in each city and the data can also provide the foundation upon which to support efforts to assess implementation and impacts. The Institute’s associate director and project director Sarah McLean said “We look forward to working closely with the GVI partners in Schenectady and Utica.”

Institute Research Highlighted in IACP’s The Police Chief

November 30, 2015 – Rob Worden and Sarah McLean published “Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and the Exercise of Police Authority,” a Research in Brief in The Police Chief (volume 82, November, 2015, pp. 14-16), the periodical of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Based on their study of police legitimacy and management accountability, Worden and McLean stress that whether – and not how – police use their authority – especially when they search citizens – is a key influence on citizens’ subjective judgments about their contacts with police, and a potential source of leverage in improving police legitimacy. When citizens are searched, their assessments of their experiences are less favorable, regardless of the procedural justice with which police exercise this authority. Worden and McLean suggest, however, that it may be possible to prevent or repair the damage to citizen attitudes that is done in this way

Institute Research at the Criminology Conference

November 20, 2015 – Institute research was disseminated at the annual conference of the American Society of Criminology in Washington earlier this week. Findings from the Institute’s survey of police agencies’ early intervention systems were presented on Wednesday. On behalf of the research team, which included Rob Worden, Sarah McLean, and Julie Krupa, Gene Paoline summarized “Varieties of Police Early Intervention: The Structure of Contemporary EI Systems.”
On Thursday, Rob Worden and Kelly Becker presented their poster, “Tip of an Iceberg: Citizen Complaints and Citizen Dissatisfaction with the Police,” which showed that when citizens are dissatisfied with an encounter with the police, they rarely file formal complaints against the police. “Citizens who are dissatisfied are most likely to do nothing about it, as many do not even think of it as a reason to complain,” Kelly Becker explained. “And when they take action to complain, most often they do not channel their grievances through the formal complaint review system. If we want to understand police accountability, we need to look below the tip of the iceberg that the review of formal complaints represents.”

 

Institute Researchers Address NYS Symposium

November 9, 2015 – Sarah McLean and Rob Worden delivered an invited presentation at a symposium on procedural justice convened by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services today in Saratoga Springs. Addressing an audience of police executives from across the state, McLean and Worden discussed the challenges of measuring and managing procedural justice in policing. “It will not suffice to measure citizens’ perceptions of procedural justice, as important as those perceptions are,” Worden said, “because citizens’ judgments are only weakly related to what officers actually do.” McLean explained that “practices of managing procedural justice ranged across a continuum, from resistance to regular and consistent support, and resistance by patrol officers also formed a continuum, from none to strong resistance that invoked several myths about procedural justice.”

Institute Research at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference

October 28, 2015 – Institute research was featured at the 122nd annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in Chicago. On Saturday, Rob Worden and Sarah McLean appeared on a panel that was organized, supported, and convened by the National Institute of Justice, and entitled “Improving Community Relations: Evidence on Police Legitimacy and Procedural Justice.”
Their presentation, “Procedural Justice in Police-Citizen Encounters: Measurement and Management,” built on their research on this topic in Schenectady and Syracuse. “Our study found that enhancing police legitimacy by placing greater managerial emphasis on procedural justice in contacts with citizens confronts several problems,” Worden said. “First, levels of procedural justice are already fairly high, leaving only some room for improvement. Second, managers, supervisors, and front-line personnel do not all embrace the same positive conception of procedural justice. Third, citizens’ subjective assessments of procedural justice are not strongly affected by officers’ overt behavior toward them.” A more complete description of which is available in their report to the National Institute of Justice, Assessing Police Performance in Citizen Encounters: Police Legitimacy and Management Accountability.

Yesterday, McLean presented findings from the Institute’s survey of police agencies’ early intervention systems, “Features of Contemporary Early Intervention Systems.” The poster presentation, and a brief report, was based on analysis that she completed with Worden, Gene Paoline, and Julie Krupa. “Contemporary EI systems exhibit broad structural commonalities but also wide variation in the configurations of indicators, thresholds for identification, review, and monitoring,” McLean explained, “and we take this variation to reflect an absence of professional consensus or evidence-based guidance.” The second phase of their NIJ-funded project, “Early Intervention Systems: The State of the Art,” is designed to help fill these gaps, she added.

Institute Researchers Publish on Long-Term Trajectories of Crime

October 19, 2015 – As a part of their research on proactive policing in Albany, Andy Wheeler, Rob Worden, and Sarah McLean analyzed crime levels in Albany over a 14-year period, replicating previous studies of Seattle and Vancouver. Their study, “Replicating Group-Based Trajectory Models of Crime at Micro-Places in Albany, NY,” was published today in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. They found that high-crime streets and intersections tend to remain high-crime “micro-places.” Wheeler explained that “these long-term hotspots represent appropriate strategic priorities for place-based interventions by law enforcement.”

Institute Director Participates in Executive Session on Early Intervention Systems

September 25, 2015 – Rob Worden appeared at an executive session on early warning systems convened yesterday by CNA at their Arlington, Virginia, headquarters. Also known as early intervention (or EI) systems, they are widely seen as promising administrative mechanisms for preventing police misconduct. Rob’s presentation, “Early Intervention Systems: What We Know and What We Need to Learn,” addressed a number of issues about the establishment and operation of EI systems, and also briefly reviewed the Institute’s current research on EI systems. “The promise of early intervention is not easily realized,” he said, “as the prediction of problem behavior by officers is subject to error when it is based on the information captured in police records, and the execution of early intervention turns on managerial and supervisory commitment and skill. Much remains to be learned about how to structure and manage EI systems.”

Update: CNA’s summary of the session is now available here.

Senior Analyst Appointed to IACA International Committee

Albany, NY, September 25, 2015 – Anne-Laure DelCerro, Senior Crime Analyst with the Institute working on-site at the Albany Crime Analysis Center, has been named International Communications Coordinator to the International Association of Crime Analysts’ (IACA) International Committee. Ms. DelCerro will be working with the IACA to develop international membership and handle requests regarding membership of international analysts.
Congratulations, Anne-Laure!

Senior Analyst Receives IACA Annual Bulletin Contest Award

Syracuse, NY, September 24, 2015 – Senior Crime Analyst Paula Cutrone, working on-site at the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center, received her third award from the International Association of Crime Anaysts’ (IACA) annual bulletin contest. Ms. Cutrone’s bulletin analyzing calls for service took third place in the Statistical Reports category.
Congratulations, Paula!

Syracuse Receives Federal Support to Address Gang Violence
Institute to Serve as Research Partner

Albany, NY, September 23, 2015- Institute researchers will continue to work with partners in Syracuse on its focused deterrence initiative, Syracuse Truce, which was initiated in early 2013 with an award from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Institute Associate Director, Sarah McLean, explained “The new BJA award will enable the partnership to take the next step in the evolution of the city’s focused deterrence strategy. The goal remains to prevent gun violence by maintaining the focused deterrence initiative. The program will expand to include an emphasis on sustained engagement with offenders to provide immediate assistance through outreach and support that genuinely meets offenders where they are.” In its capacity as research partner, the Institute will provide on-going, research-based guidance on implementation and strategic refinement of the initiative and assess program impacts. More information can be found here.

Finn Institute to continue to partner with law enforcement on New York State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative

Albany, NY, June 1, 2015 – GIVE provides state funds to seventeen counties in New York State to support their efforts to combat firearm-related crimes, shootings, and homicides. The Institute is happy to extend its GIVE partnerships with the Cities of Albany, Troy, and Kingston and the Counties of Oneida and Onondaga into the second year of the GIVE program. Institute Associate Director, Sarah McLean, said “The Institute will continue to provide crime analysis support and serve as the research partner to these jurisdictions. We are also very pleased that the Year II GIVE funds provide the opportunity for us to renew our partnership with Schenectady County.”
Under GIVE I the Institute worked with its partners in each jurisdiction to examine a variety of strategies designed to reduce gun violence. Under GIVE II the Institute will build on the GIVE I foundation (primarily process evaluations), continuing to monitor implementation and also adding in assessments of the impacts of selected strategies. GIVE II also provides the opportunity for the Institute to work with its partners around a number of new initiatives being implemented in the counties, including Ceasefire in Albany. Institute Director, Rob Worden, noted that “We are looking forward to undertaking a multi-county examination of the concrete steps our police partners take to build public trust and confidence”.

Worden One of Five Panelists in Town Hall Meeting

July 9, 2015 – Institute director Rob Worden was one of five panelists in a “Town Hall” meeting on the relationship between the police and the public, hosted by WRGB CBS6. Joining Worden on the panel were Anne Pope, director of the NAACP Northeast Region; Colin Donnaruma, president of the Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Craig Apple, Albany County Sheriff; and Captain (ret.) John Cooney of the Troy Police Department. The panel was moderated by Mark Hyman, and the panelists addressed questions posed in person by a live studio audience and also those posted through social media. Worden said, “The panel brought different perspectives to bear on issues that are as complicated as they are important, and events like this one help to elevate the level of public discourse. I hope that we’ll see more events of this kind in the future.”
The Town Hall recording can be viewed here: Town Hall Meeting

Senior Analyst, Andrew Wheeler, awarded doctoral degree

Albany, NY, May 16, 2015 – Dr. Andrew Wheeler was awarded his Ph.D. in criminal justice from the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Congratulations Andy!

Worden & McLean Testify at NYS Senate Hearing

March 11, 2015 – Rob Worden and Sarah McLean, the Institute’s director and associate director, provided invited testimony at the New York State Senate Joint Committee Hearing on Police Safety and Public Protection. They highlighted the importance of police legitimacy and the likely benefits of State support for: (1) the implementation of community policing that is true to the strategic nature of community policing; (2) the establishment of police “auditors”; and (3) police training and research on the effectiveness of training. Their written testimony is available here. A recording of the entire hearing is available here.

Written testimony: Worden & McLean NYS Senate testimony 3-11-15
Link to NYS Senate site: http://www.nysenate.gov/event/2015/mar/11/examining-police-safety-and-public-protection-new-york-state-2 (starting at about 5:11:30)

Police Legitimacy Project

December 30, 2014 – Institute researchers Rob Worden and Sarah McLean completed the project, “Assessing Police Performance in Citizen Encounters: Police Legitimacy and Management Accountability,” with a report by that title to the sponsor, the National Institute of Justice.  Working with the Schenectady and Syracuse Police Departments, the project provided for measuring police performance in terms of citizens’ judgments of procedural justice; in each city, monthly samples of people who had a contact with police were surveyed about their experiences, with results fed back through the departments’ management accountability systems.  Based on the premise that ‘what gets measured gets managed,” one would suppose that with the introduction of periodic measures of citizens’ experiences into the management system, performance would improve over time.  But Worden and McLean found evidence of organizational “loose coupling”: performance measurement and management accountability in police departments is only loosely connected to street-level practice.  In addition, they found that officers’ behavior – the procedural justice and procedural injustice with which police treated citizens – is only weakly related to citizens’ judgments about their experiences; instead, it appears that citizens’ assessments of officers’ conduct are influenced by their previous attitudes toward police and other features of social context, more than they are by what police do.  Over time, neither survey-based measures of police performance nor observed patterns of police behavior changed much if at all.

Rob Worden said that “We began with the naïve assumptions that police could build legitimacy – that is, the public’s trust and confidence – one contact at a time, by treating people with procedural justice, and that these aspects of police performance would be better managed if measures of them were available to managers.  Our findings lead us to believe that neither assumption is tenable.”  Sarah McLean said that “We found fairly high levels of citizen satisfaction at the outset in both departments, and those levels remained high over time.  We found in officers’ behavior moderate levels of procedural justice and low levels of procedural injustice, which were also stable over time.  And we found among managers, supervisors, and officers a continuum of views about procedural justice and ‘customer service’ in policing, which is symptomatic of the challenges in changing the ways that people do their jobs, especially when the job is performed in an uncertain and sometimes dangerous environment.”  Worden added that “If we’re right – one study does not establish these conclusions as facts – then some contemporary prescriptions for police reform are unlikely to have the anticipated effects.”

Both researchers expressed their appreciation for the departments’ executives – Chief Mark Chaires and Chief Brian Kilcullen in Schenectady and Chief Frank Fowler in Syracuse – and their personnel for their interest in and unstinting cooperation with the project, and to NIJ for its support.

The full report is available here: Assessing Police Performance in Citizen Encounters

 

Finn Institute Affiliated Researcher Appointed to BJS

The John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety congratulates Ms. Shelley Hyland, who recently accepted a position with The Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the Law Enforcement Statistics Unit, in their Washington, DC headquarters.

Finn Institute Analysts Receive Onondaga Crime Analysis Center Commendations:

August 7, 2014- A Commendation for outstanding work was awarded to Crime Analyst Samantha Monge of the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center (OCAC) for superior analytical skills, proactive drive, and focus during the Spring of 2014.  Ms. Monge designed and built a comprehensive firearm database that consolidated and aligned several different data sources to track firearm details in one location. The database has increased the efficiency with which the OCAC operates and has allowed for a more comprehensive sharing of firearm data. Her work has enhanced the OCAC’s capacity to analyze firearm crime and provide actionable intelligence and analysis to operational units.

Senior Analyst Receives Colonie Police Department Honor

June 10, 2014 – Ms. Anne-Laure Del Cerro was the proud recipient of Colonie Police Department’s Civilian Recognition Award on May 22nd, 2014. Ms. Del Cerro, a Senior Crime Analyst at the Albany Crime Analysis Center, worked diligently with Colonie Police Department’s Investigator John Santorio and Sergeant Todd Weiss on a case involving the sexual assault of a young woman in Colonie. She spent countless hours examining digital evidence and discovered video files which ultimately identified the perpetrator.

Finn Institute Analysts Receive Onondaga Crime Analysis Center Commendations

June 10, 2014 – Senior Crime Analyst, Paula Cutrone, was commended for superior work by Onondaga Crime Analysis Center (OCAC) Director Ron Rockwood and Captain Rich Trudell of the Syracuse Police Department. They note that her proactivity and keen analytical skills, as well as her tenacity in searching databases and developing leads, developed intelligence that directly resulted in the identification and subsequent arrest of burglars operating in the City of Syracuse.

Crime Analyst Samantha Monge was awarded a Commendation for developing and analyzing an emerging pattern of stolen vehicles from commercial auto lots throughout the City of Syracuse. OCAC Director Ron Rockwood and Captain Rich Trudell of the Syracuse Police Department note that Ms. Monge was proactive and diligent in identifying the initial crime pattern. Ms. Monge identified several persons of interest and disseminated this information to law enforcement through countywide bulletins. During a routine traffic stop, law enforcement recognized the suspect as the individual identified in the bulletin and the series of stolen motor vehicles ceased after the suspect’s arrest.

Shelagh Dorn, the Institute’s Assistant Director for Technical Assistance said, “We are happy to see Paula and Samantha recognized for their efforts and are pleased with the work of all the Finn Institute’s analysts.”

Finn Institute to partner with law enforcement on New York State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative

May 14, 2014 – Institute researchers will work with several upstate law enforcement agencies on their efforts to reduce gun violence.  The state has awarded 17 counties nearly $13.2 million in grants to reduce crime. The Institute will provide crime analysis support and/or serve as the research partner to 5 of these jurisdictions, including the Cities of Albany, Kingston, and Troy, and the Counties of Oneida and Onondaga. Sarah McLean, the Institute’s associate director, said “We are excited to continue partnerships that, in some cases, date back more than a decade and to expand relationships with newer partners. It is our honor to support a very worthwhile initiative.”

Finn Institute to Conduct National Study of Preventing Police Misconduct

Albany, NY, October 31, 2013 – Today the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc., announced that it has received a $486,485 grant from the National Institute of Justice, under its Research and Evaluation on Policing program, to conduct a multi-site evaluation of police early intervention systems.  Institute researchers Robert Worden and Sarah McLean will lead a team of scholars that includes Eugene Paoline (University of Central Florida), Chris Harris (University of Massachusetts-Lowell), and KiDeuk Kim (the Urban Institute).

Based on the premise that a small set of “problem officers” account for a disproportionate fraction of police misconduct, an early intervention system is a management tool used to monitor indicators of misconduct, identify officers who display symptoms of problem behavior, and intervene with counseling or retraining.  Early intervention (EI) systems are widely considered to be promising mechanisms for enhancing police integrity, but social science provides little evidence on their effectiveness in reducing misconduct or their unintended – inhibiting – effects on appropriate uses of police authority.  The Institute’s study will add to the empirical evidence on the structure, operation, and effectiveness of EI systems, based on a survey of agencies that operate such systems and especially an in-depth and rigorous process and outcome evaluation in each of five police agencies.

Rob Worden said “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about how EI systems operate and with what effects.  They have been touted as a best practice, but without a solid base of scientific evidence on their effectiveness.  Most of the evaluative research rests on weak designs.  Although the logic model of EI systems is intuitive, EI systems are based on performance indicators that leave a lot to be desired, and there is also some reason to think that EI systems could have adverse effects.  In any case, we – that is, social scientists – can and should do better.  Police practitioners need to know more about patterns of police misconduct and how EI systems alter police performance.”  Referring to co-principal investigators Paoline, Harris, and Kim, he added that “Sarah and I are thrilled to be working with such a talented group of researchers.  Each of them is an accomplished and respected scholar, and I’m confident that together we’ll make a substantial addition to the knowledge base.”

More information about the Finn Institute can be found by visiting http://finninstitute.com/.  For more information about NIJ visit http://www.nij.gov/.

Albany PD – Finn Institute Partnership Gets Federal Boost

Albany, NY, October 31, 2013 – Today the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc., announced that it has received a $449,133 grant from the National Institute of Justice, which will support an enhancement of the long-standing partnership between Institute researchers and the Albany Police Department.  The Institute successfully competed under NIJ’s Building and Enhancing Criminal Justice Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships program.  The partnership dates to 1998, when John Finn commanded APD’s Juvenile Unit, and he invited Rob Worden to collaborate on a problem-solving project.  The partnership has continued – with intensity that has fluctuated with the availability of funding – over the years since then.  The new NIJ grant will enable the partners to take steps that will strengthen and better institutionalize their collaboration.

The enhanced partnership will initially undertake research designed to increase the efficiency of proactive policing, increasing the ratio of successful or other “high-value” stops to all stops.  Proactive policing would thus be conducted more surgically, such that the stops that are made would have the greatest potential crime-reduction benefits, perhaps mitigating the adverse consequences of proactive policing without vitiating its crime control value. The partnership will be organized in terms of a project working group and a steering committee – the new Research Advisory Council (RAC) –that will set direction for and exercise oversight over partnership work, and also serve as a forum for formal exchanges about research.

Rob Worden said “We’re grateful for Chief Krokoff’s interest in extending and enriching his department’s partnership with the Finn Institute, and for NIJ’s support.  We’re very much looking forward to working more closely with APD and also addressing a vexing trade-off in policing between crime control and police-community relations.  We’re optimistic that we’ll find ways to achieve the beneficial effects of proactive policing and minimize its social costs.”

More information about the Finn Institute can be found by visiting http://finninstitute.com/.  For more information about NIJ visit http://www.nij.gov/.

Syracuse Receives Federal Support for Gang Program

Institute to Serve as Research Partner

Albany, NY, October 2, 2013 – The City of Syracuse has been awarded a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support the implementation of OJJDP’s comprehensive gang model, and the John Finn Institute will serve as the research partner.  The $1.5 million grant was one of six awards by OJJDP under its Community Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program.

The comprehensive gang model includes five core strategies: social intervention; opportunities provision; community mobilization; suppression; and organizational change and development.  With oversight by a steering committee comprised of community leaders, Syracuse will: form a multi-disciplinary intervention team to address the needs of high-risk, gang-involved youth; implement after-school, summer, and employment programs for gang-involved and other high-risk youth; hire a project director to mobilize community resources and facilitate organizational change as needed; and conduct targeted suppression and social control.  The plan builds on the foundation laid by a multi-agency group, the Community Intervention Committee, formed in 2010, and a gang assessment completed by the Institute last year.  Under the auspices of its subaward, the Institute will monitor implementation and impacts over the course of the three-year funding period, conducting a process and outcome evaluation.

Sarah McLean said “The OJJDP award is the result of several years of work on the part of CIC members and others in Syracuse, which set the stage for the implementation of the comprehensive gang model in Syracuse. Several data-driven, promising programs are now being implemented in the City to reduce gang and gun violence, and we are optimistic that true inroads will be made in combatting these serious problems. We look forward to continuing our work with this dedicated group of partners.”

See the report of the award here:

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/09/federal_government_awards_syracuse_15_million_for_new_effort_to_battle_gang_viol.html

Finn Institute Continues as Syracuse Police Research Partner

Albany, NY, September 20, 2013 – Today the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc., announced that it will continue to serve as the research partner to the Syracuse Police Department (SPD) in 2013-2014.  The Institute will assist SPD in its analysis of gang intelligence, focusing on social network analyses of Syracuse street gangs and other violent groups. The members of violent groups and gangs make up some of the small number of offenders who are responsible for a disproportionate share of gun violence in the City. The social network analyses provide a visual and mathematical display of who is in a gang network and the location of actors within a network, and like previous analysis of the same kind that the Institute performed earlier in 2013, they will help to inform the implementation of Syracuse Truce, a focused deterrence initiative.

Sarah McLean said “Network analysis provides a powerful tool for better understanding dynamics within and across gangs. We know that not all groups and their individual members are equally violence prone, and this form of analysis provides one of several sources of information that will be used to prioritize the delivery of the Truce message and the targets of law enforcement actions.”

Finn Institute and the Kingston Police Department to Partner

Albany, NY, September 16, 2013 – The Finn Institute entered into an agreement with the Kingston, NY Police Department to provide crime analytic support to the Department. Sarah McLean said “We look forward to working with the KPD Command Staff and its Operation IMPACT Task Force partners to describe crime and safety problems in Kingston in a way that supports the development of data-driven initiatives.”

Finn Institute Analysts Receive Professional Recognition

September 16, 2013 – Today the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) announced the winners of the 2013 IACA Analytical Products Contest.  In the Intelligence Category, Finn analysts Kathleen Caruso, Samantha Monge, and Lauren Miller were recognized in the top 3 spots. Ms. Caruso and Ms. Monge are analysts working in the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center (OCAC) and Ms. Miller works in the Albany Crime Analysis Center (ACAC).

Institute Associate Director Sarah McLean said, “We’re very happy to see their work recognized by their professional peers.”

Finn Institute Publishes an Evaluation of Schenectady, NY Public Surveillance System

July 8, 2013 – The Finn Institute’s analysis of the effects of public surveillance cameras on crime and disorder was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Criminal Justice Review. The article, “Here’s Looking at You: An Evaluation of Public CCTV Cameras and Their Effects on Crime and Disorder,” will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal, and it is accessible online now at http://cjr.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/05/0734016813492415

Syracuse Truce Receives National Recognition

April 8, 2013 –  The Syracuse Truce focused deterrence initiative received national attention on the CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. The Institute’s Associate Director, Sarah McLean, said, “We are pleased that Syracuse’s efforts to reduce gun violence are being recognized.” As part of the Truce team’s effort to get the Truce message out the City recently launched a Faceook page and a webpage. To learn more about Truce we hope interested parties will visit ww.syracusetruce.com  or  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Syracuse-Truce/523354851048377?fref=pb

See Syracuse Truce highlighted on CNN at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2013/04/01/tsr-feyerick-syracuse-gang-problem.cnn

John Finn Remembered

October 7, 2012 – As a part of the celebration of its tenth anniversary, news network YNN is highlighting ten major stories in the Capital Region of New York, one of which is Lt. John Finn’s tragic death in 2004 and the legacy that Lt. Finn left.  The Institute and its work is part of that legacy.  See the story here: http://capitalregion.ynn.com/content/video_stories/603360/ynn-10-years–lt–finn-s-legacy-continues-today/?ap=1&MP4.

The Institute’s director, Robert Worden, said “We’re of course very pleased to see John’s life and good work remembered in this way, and we feel privileged to play a small part in his legacy.”

Institute to Work on Focused Deterrence Initiative

September 27, 2012 – Institute researchers will be working with partners in Syracuse on a newly funded focused deterrence initiative.  The United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York announced today that Syracuse is the recipient of an award from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to support Syracuse Truce, which will build on successful efforts of this kind in Boston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and elsewhere.   Sarah McLean, the Institute’s associate director, said “Previous efforts of this nature provide a very promising road map for Syracuse Truce. We look forward to working with our partners in Syracuse who have shown a serious commitment to focusing on what works in order to bring about positive change for the people of Syracuse.”

See the U.S. Attorney’s press release at http://www.justice.gov/usao/nyn/news/1746-3437-1503879552.pdf.

Finn Institute Analyst Receives Professional Recognition

September 13, 2012 – Today the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) announced the winners of the 2012 IACA Bulletin contest.  In the category of Statistical Reports, the work of the Finn Institute’s Paula Cutrone was recognized in this peer review process; Ms. Cutrone is a senior crime analyst working in the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center (OCAC).

Institute Associate Director Sarah McLean said “This is the second year that Ms. Cutrone’s work has earned praise from the professional association of crime analysts. We are very proud of the work that our analysts perform.”

Institute Researchers Speak at NIJ Conference

June 19, 2012 – Finn Institute researchers Rob Worden and Sarah McLean delivered a presentation about the Institute’s NIJ-funded research on police legitimacy and procedural justice at NIJ’s annual conference today.  The NIJ conference brings together criminal justice scholars, policy-makers, and practitioners to share and discuss recent findings, with a view toward what works and what is promising.  The Institute’s project, conducted in collaboration with the Schenectady and Syracuse Police Departments, entails the compilation of survey-based measures of the quality of police performance in contacts with the public, with feedback to police commanders in management accountability meetings.  With performance measured in this way, performance – in the form of the procedural justice with which citizens are treated – can be expected to improve, and with it the legitimacy of the police.  Worden and McLean appeared on a panel with representatives of their project partner agencies: Brian Kilcullen, Schenectady’s Assistant Chief of Police; and Joseph Cecile, Syracuse’s Deputy Chief of Police.  Also appearing on the panel was Tom Tyler, a Yale psychologist whose research on this topic has laid the groundwork for further research and practice.  Worden said, “We were very pleased to have the opportunity to describe this project for a national audience, and given NIJ’s interest in translating research into practice, the NIJ conference was the perfect setting for us to do so.”

The 2012 NIJ Conference program book:

http://www.nij.gov/nij/events/nij_conference/2012/nij-2012-program-book.pdf

Media coverage:

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Jury-s-decision-to-acquit-took-no-time-at-all-3645825.php

Finn Institute Researchers Complete Evaluation of Early Intervention System

April 25, 2012 – Early intervention systems for police are widely regarded as a promising management tool for preventing police misconduct.  Little is known about the effectiveness of such systems, however, because few have been evaluated empirically, and the evaluation designs have been weak.  Today Finn Institute researchers Rob Worden, MoonSun Kim, Chris Harris, Shelley Hyland, and Shelagh Dorn, with Mary Ann Pratte, completed an evaluation of one agency’s early intervention system, which showed that it had no beneficial effects on misconduct, but a small deterrent effect on police proactivity.  Institute director Rob Worden said “early intervention systems are probably a good idea, but we doubt that the first-generation systems that exist today can fulfill the promise of early intervention.  We hope that our findings will prompt the field to examine early intervention more closely, and to make a concerted effort to improve them structurally”.  The study will appear in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior.

McLean Updates Syracuse on Gang Assessment

March 21, 2012 – The Finn Institute’s Associate Director, Sarah McLean, delivered two presentations about the Institute’s assessment of Syracuse gangs today, as part of the further development of a comprehensive anti-gang initiative in that city.  McLean first addressed a group of key institutional stakeholders, and later in the day spoke at a community forum.  Joining her was a representative from the National Youth Gang Center, who also provided training in the Comprehensive Gang Model of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  McLean said, “community partnership is vital to the success of the initiative. So, we were very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the anti-gang initiative with community members and to hear their perspectives and ideas for strengthening anti-gang efforts in the city”.

Media coverage

YNN, March 21

http://centralny.ynn.com/content/top_stories/577862/national-gang-center-working-with-local-leaders/

WSTM, March 21

http://www.cnycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=733121#.T2sVI3mJCFA

WSYR, March 21

http://www.9wsyr.com/news/local/story/Community-unites-to-end-gang-violence/xXhX_fffS0mx9LqlRo0VQg.cspx

Finn Institute to Complete Gang Assessment

December 14, 2011 – With Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) funding through the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Rosamond Gifford Foundation, in addition to support provided by the Central New York Community Foundation through the Salvation Army, the Finn Institute will continue to work with Onondaga County’s Community Intervention Committee (CIC) on the development of a comprehensive anti-gang initiative in Syracuse. Institute researchers will complete a gang assessment and also serve as the research partner to the CIC.  Project director Sarah McLean, the Institute’s Associate Director, said “we are very pleased to continue our work with the CIC. The CIC is committed to implementing effective strategies to reduce gang violence in Syracuse, and the gang assessment will provide the foundation to guide these efforts”.

Finn Institute to Continue as Research Partner

October 4, 2011 – With support through the Syracuse Police Department, the Finn Institute will continue to serve as the research partner to Onondaga County’s Operation IMPACT / Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) task force.  The multi-agency task force formulates and implements crime reduction strategies; the research partner evaluates the effectiveness of the strategies and assists with the development of strategies.  Finn Institute researchers have served as the PSN research partner in the Northern District of New York since 2002, and as the IMPACT research partner since 2004.

Finn Institute Analysts Receive Professional Recognition

September 23, 2011 – The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) recently announced the winners of the 2011 IACA Bulletin contest, and three Finn Institute crime analysts were among those whose work was recognized; all three work in the Albany Crime Analysis Center (ACAC).  In the category of Statistical Analysis, Leslie Morris’ quarterly aggravated assault report won second place.  In the category of Tactical Analysis, Anne Laure Del Cerro’s analysis of a robbery series took second place, and in the category of Intelligence Bulletins, Kellen Crouse’s gang intelligence brief was the third place winner.  Institute Associate Director Sarah McLean said “Our crime analysts do first-rate work on a daily basis, and we are pleased that it has been recognized by the professional association of crime analysts.”

Finn Institute Publishes Syracuse Racial Profiling Analysis

September 1, 2011 – The Finn Institute’s analysis of stops by Syracuse police was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Police Quarterly.  It is scheduled to appear in the March or June 2012 issue of the journal.  The study’s lead author, Rob Worden, said, “We were glad to be of service to the City of Syracuse in performing this analysis, and we are pleased to disseminate its results to the broader academic and professional community, adding to existing knowledge about police practices.  We also take this outcome of the peer review process as confirmation of the scientific validity of our analysis, and it adds to the credibility of our report to Syracuse.”

Updated January 28, 2012 – The article, “Testing for Racial Profiling With the Veil-of-Darkness Method,” appears in the March issue of Police Quarterly (volume 15, number 1), pages 92-111.  It is accessible at http://pqx.sagepub.com/content/15/1/92.abstract.

Finn Institute Completes Racial Profiling Analysis for Syracuse Police

November 15, 2010 – Finn Institute researchers appeared today at a meeting of the Syracuse Common Council’s Public Safety Committee to present the results of their analysis of stops by Syracuse police, an inquiry into whether the stops exhibit a pattern of racial profiling. A 2001 Syracuse ordinance mandates the collection of data on stops, and the Common Council has twice commissioned analyses of the data, first in 2006 and again this year – studies that relied on an approach known as the “outcome test.” Skeptical about the utility of the outcome test in analyzing the Syracuse data, the Institute proposed to Syracuse’s Chief Frank Fowler to conduct an analysis using the “veil-of-darkness” method, an approach devised by researchers at the RAND Corporation. Institute Director Robert Worden pointed out that “the study commissioned by the Common Council suffers from several shortcomings, but it has two fatal flaws that render its results uninterpretable. The limitations of the outcome test and of the available data make the veil-of-darkness method the most appropriate approach.” Analyzing vehicle stops in the “inter-twilight” period – the times of day when it might be light or dark, depending on the time of year – the Institute tested to see whether African-Americans were more likely to be stopped during daylight, when drivers’ race can be more readily determined by officers, than in darkness. Finding no consistent differences between stops in daylight and stops in darkness, the Institute’s analysis detected no persuasive evidence of racial bias in stops. (See the report here.)

Media coverage:

Syracuse Post Standard
November 15, 2010

WSYR-TV
November 15, 2010

YNN
November 15, 2010

WSTM-TV
November 15, 2010

John Finn Institute to Examine Police Performance and Accountability

Albany, NY, October 12, 2010 – Today the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc., announced that it has received an award from the National Institute of Justice to examine how measures of procedural fairness can be incorporated into police accountability systems.  Police departments routinely assess officers’ performance, especially their productivity, but the ‘procedural fairness’ with which officers treat citizens is seldom measured, except insofar as citizens file complaints, and it is rarely an outcome for which police managers are held accountable.

Dr. Sarah McLean, the Finn Institute’s Associate Director, explained that “procedural fairness is a matter of treating people with dignity and respect, listening to what they have to say, and explaining what is being done.  Officers’ conformity with principles of procedural fairness is of fundamental importance to the police mission, as it affects people’s trust in legal institutions, their cooperation with law enforcement, and even their compliance with the law.  Measuring police performance in these terms, and making it susceptible to police management, promises to improve all of these outcomes.”

With NIJ support, Finn Institute researchers will provide for measures of police performance based principally on surveys of citizens who have contacts with the Schenectady and Syracuse Police, which will be incorporated into the departments’ management accountability systems (i.e., Compstat) and regularly reviewed as an outcome for which managers are responsible.  In Schenectady, where in-car video is used, the survey-based measures will be complemented with performance measures drawn from sampled video and audio recordings.

Finn Institute Director Robert Worden said that “we anticipate that when police departments measure these elements of police performance, and hold managers accountable for it, police performance will improve over time, and so too will levels of citizen satisfaction with and trust in the police, and public cooperation with law enforcement.”  He added that “we knew that Schenectady’s Chief Chaires and Syracuse’s Chief Fowler were committed to making the quality of police-citizen interaction a high priority, and so their agencies were naturals for this undertaking.  We are very pleased to be working with them and their departments, and we expect that the field will learn much from their experience with this progressive approach to improving police service to the community.”

Finn Institute Analysts Receive Professional Recognition

October 8, 2010 – Today the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) announced the winners of the 2010 IACA Bulletin contest.  In the category of Statistical Reports, the work of the Finn Institute’s Paula Cutrone was recognized in this peer review process; Ms. Cutrone is a senior crime analyst working in the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center (OCAC).

And in the category of Intelligence Products, the OCAC’s submission was a winner; in addition to Ms. Cutrone, the Institute’s Kara Nyamuomba, Kyleen Luy, Akousa Bempong, and Sarah Pierce – all of whom work in the OCAC – share this distinction with other OCAC staff.  Institute Director Rob Worden said “We’re very proud of the work that our crime analysts do, and happy to see it earn this praise from the professional association of crime analysts.”

Finn Institute Publishes Study of Operation Safe Corridor

September 15, 2010 – The Finn Institute’s evaluation of Operation Safe Corridor appears in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Criminal Justice Policy Review (volume 21, issue 3), pages 363-380 (http://cjp.sagepub.com/content/current).  The study’s lead author, Sarah McLean, said, “The study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding crime and place research through its examination of the extent to which strategically focusing enforcement efforts on the places, people, and conditions associated with crime will result in reductions in crime.”

Finn Institute to Continue as Research Partner

July 21, 2010 – With Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) funding through the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Rosamond Gifford Foundation, the Finn Institute will continue to serve as the research partner to Onondaga County’s PSN/Operation IMPACT task force.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federal initiative to reduce gun violence.  Local task forces in each federal district, including federal, state, and local agencies under the leadership of the United States Attorney, develop data-driven approaches to the gun crime problems in each locality. Each task force includes a research partner, who analyzes gun violence patterns and draws on extant research to help inform the development of violence-reduction strategies, and also monitors implementation and outcomes.  Finn Institute researchers have served as the research partner in the Northern District of New York since 2002.

Operation IMPACT (Integrated Municipal Police Anti-Crime Teams) is a New York State initiative that provides funding for strategic crime-reduction interventions by multi-agency task forces in each of seventeen jurisdictions across New York State; in Onondaga County, the PSN task force is also the IMPACT task force.

Institute Director Rob Worden said, “We are pleased to continue working with the task force in Onondaga County.  No group is more committed than they are to making their city safer, and they appreciate the value of analysis and research.”