Background

The National Police Research Platform: Where It All Began


In 2009, a team of leading police researchers and police executives, with support from the National Institute of Justice (Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice) developed a new, more productive and efficient way to learn about policing in the United States. This initiative, called the National Police Research Platform, was implemented in selected jurisdictions around the country that agreed to participate in one or more pilot test phases of the project. The project was headquartered at the University of Illinois at Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, and involved a consortium of leading police researchers at other major universities. (See Original Research Team).1

The Platform focused on changes that occurred within and across police organizations and police officers. The Platform was structured around measuring the responses of four key groups - new recruits, new supervisors, employees of police agencies, and members of the community with recent police encounters. The primary method of data collection was the web-based survey, which provides enormous efficiencies in time and cost. This electronic approach was supplemented with existing police records, census data and telephone interviews, as well as periodic observations and in-depth interviews.

During Phase 1 (2009-2011), a wide range of methods and measures were field tested and validated. During Phase 2 (2013-2015), the Platform’s framework was applied to a larger national sample of agencies. The methodological components were integrated to provide a coherent picture of the life course of police organizations across the nation and explore new directions in the science of policing.

The UIC team was able to engage approximately 100 agencies , that participated in and benefited from the early phases of the Platform. As a result of their work with these agencies, numerous reports were developed and published that demonstrated the capabilities of the Platform in substantially improving what we know about police agencies and the potential capabilities of the Platform to improve the data available to law enforcement leaders and enable more effective and data-informed decision making. 

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  1. The original UIC Platform website (www.nationalpoliceresearch.org) was, with the support of Dr. Rosenbaum, transitioned to the Police Foundation in 2017