The Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science Agencies Program

Agency-Based Police Research, by Gary Cordner, Chief Research Advisor, NIJ LEADS Agencies Program

Read Agency-Based Police Research (pdf, 9 pages) by Gary Cordner, Chief Research Advisor, NIJ LEADS Agencies Program.

Learn more about the LEADS Agencies program from these select publications.

The National Institute of Justice's Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science Agencies Program (LEADS Agencies) is designed to help law enforcement agencies become more effective by improving their internal capacity for collecting data, analyzing data, conducting research, and using evidence.

The program is currently in its first phase, working with eight pilot sites to explore how best to encourage and support agencies.

How will LEADS Agencies work? The plan is flexible, but we expect that it will start by helping each agency assess its current capacity for data, analysis, research, and evidence. Then, if any gaps or areas in need of improvement are identified, we will help the agency make improvements, which could fit into any of these categories:

  • Better collection of critical data.
  • Better analysis of issues and problems.
  • Doing a study to answer an important research question.
  • Increasing the use of evidence in agency decision-making.

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While we always encourage agencies to work with research partners, facilitating that is not part of this program. One of our goals under this program is to decrease the extent to which police agencies are dependent on others for research and evidence

What data will agencies collect and analyze? The focus on improving data, analysis, research, or evidence might be external (e.g., crime, safety, trust); or it might be internal (e.g., recruitment, training, technology). Each pilot site might end up working on something different, or multiple sites might undertake similar efforts — it depends on what each agency identifies as important for them.

LEADS Agencies is not a grant program. NIJ is not providing grant funds to the agencies, but instead offering technical assistance.

This is not a single national study looking for data sites. NIJ will not be collecting data from the agencies involved or requiring those agencies to participate in any overarching research project.

Is LEADS Agencies connected to the LEADS Scholars program? In a sense, the LEADS Agencies program grew out of the success of our LEADS Scholars program. Although the two programs are not directly connected, we will invite LEAD Scholars to help assist the pilot agencies directly and help build tools and guidance for agencies looking to build their own research capabilities. Learn more about our LEADS Scholars.

We will help sites share what they learn. In addition to helping pilot sites make improvements, whenever promising or interesting practices are identified in a site, we will help publicize what the agency is doing for the benefit of other law enforcement agencies around the country.

LEADS Agencies is part of a larger picture. LEADS Agencies will not operate in a vacuum. We are working on coordinating and integrating this program with other similar law enforcement initiatives such as BJA's Smart Policing Initiative, and evidence-based policing.

The larger, longer term objective of all those initiatives is to help advance the effectiveness and professionalism of the law enforcement field with an emphasis on data, analysis, research, and evidence. The LEADS Agencies pilot sites will have the opportunity to contribute to this important mission.

Date Created: August 22, 2018