NIJ Journal 271: Director's Message
Editor's note: Read an interview with Greg Ridgeway Exit Notice in Amstat News, the magazine of the American Statistical Association.
Before I arrived at NIJ in July 2012, I was already impressed with NIJ's research, especially with the innovation and intellectual
curiosity that has led to major changes in the way law enforcement works — historic examples include the development of body
armor and crime mapping. Now that I have been on board at NIJ for eight months and acting director since January 7, I am even
more impressed with NIJ's potential for propelling innovation forward. We have remarkable people at NIJ and operate from a
prominent national platform. I am committed to making decisions that will continue to ensure rigorous science and leading-edge
Several articles in this issue of the NIJ Journal illustrate NIJ's commitment to innovation. The cover story, for example, shows how Geoffrey Barnes and Jordan Hyatt used
sophisticated statistical techniques to create a computerized system that goes a long way toward predicting which probationers
are most likely to violently reoffend within two years of returning to the community. Not only does their work illustrate
innovation, it exemplifies two other primary NIJ goals: researcher-practitioner partnerships and translational criminology.
Barnes and Hyatt formed a partnership with Philadelphia's Adult Probation and Parole Department and translated their work
as they went along. They continually tailored the models to be what practitioners in the Department needed most. They custom-fit
their research for the end-user.
The article about the pitfalls of prediction is a piece I wrote while I was an NIJ grantee at RAND; I presented it to a group
of law enforcement agencies that were developing predictive policing programs. It is gratifying to see that the timing allowed
the NIJ Journal to publish it in this issue with other articles about the ways researchers are using data to keep communities safer while
also saving public safety dollars and practitioner time.
People who study innovation tell us that great ideas happen when networks of people connect. With NIJ's new Office of Research
Partnerships, we are making deeper and stronger connections with researcher and practitioner networks — such as the National
Science Foundation, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and
the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). NIJ plans to actively participate in IACP and IACA's annual conferences
As acting director, I intend to continue to foster the interchange of ideas between researchers and practitioners and to learn
from each other so we can better understand how to use data to respond to the nation's most pressing criminal justice issues.
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice
NIJ Journal No. 271, February 2013
Date Created: February 27, 2013