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Policing expert lectures on campus

No justice? No peace? Photo - Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press
No justice? No peace? Photo – Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press

Whoop-whoop! That’s the sound of da police

After the events that have occurred in Ferguson Missouri, and the many recent breakdowns in policing which have dominated the recent news, the topic of smart policing has been a very heavy conversation. Determining the right way to handle crime in a city, and how to become more effective in dealing with it is a problem that is always on the minds of the professors that study criminal justice. Foundation Professor Dr. Scott H. Decker talked about these problems and their potential solutions during his lecture on Smart Policing and the Challenge of Transitional Criminology at the University of Regina on Sept. 30.

Before delving further into his lecture, Dr. Decker wanted to address the question of what exactly smart policing is. Does it mean that what we’ve been doing is wrong? Not necessarily, says Dr. Decker.

“Does [smart policing] imply that we were doing dumb policing before, or that we weren’t smart? No, I think the title implies something about the packaging and marketing, and the need to stay focused in a way that goes beyond what we’ve done in the past. What smart policing causes us to do is refocus our attention in important ways, and to keep our eye on the ball.”

So what exactly is wrong with the way policing is done today? Dr. Decker believes that part of the problem is rooted in continuing to do things because that’s just how we’ve always done them in the past. This ignores all of the data that criminologists like Dr. Decker have been working on.

As Dr. Decker stated, “If we don’t pay attention to data, then we’re going to do the same thing over and over again.”

For example, take the city of St. Louis. Statistically, it is the most dangerous city in America. Dr. Decker noted that during his time there things rarely changed, and that was a major reason why things have not gotten better.

“Smart policing is analytics, data driven,” says Decker. “It’s paying attention to the problem, and focusing on outcomes.”

Transitioning into the second part of his lecture, Decker spoke about the phrase “translational criminology,” and its relatively recent introduction into the world of the modern criminologist. Decker described translational criminology as being innovative, police being accountable, applying new research and findings to solving problems in crime, and reaching across the aisle in attempts to help fix a problem that impacts Canada just as seriously as it does the United States.

Dr. Decker also addressed was what he calls the “911 Problem.” Essentially, the 911 system currently in place is a broken and tangled mess of inefficiencies and wasted time. According to Decker, 911 could be made more efficient with people taking more time addressing a crime scene, and getting as much information as possible, rather than just clearing calls as quickly as possible.

Dr. Decker’s lecture was very interesting, providing a valuable inside look at the world of criminology, and the problems that are currently facing modern law enforcement in both Canada and United States. Not only did Decker’s lecture succeed in identifying the problems that have rocked places like Ferguson and Baltimore recently, but also provided valuable and practical solutions that will make law enforcement more efficient, and better equipped to handle future situations.

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