Researchers Partner with Fayetteville Police Department to Understand Local Crime and Public Safety Issues | #College. | #Students

Faculty from the U of A’s Department of Sociology and Criminology recently developed a researcher-practitioner collaboration with the Fayetteville Police Department.

Faculty members Grant Drawve, Casey Harris, Shaun Thomas and Mindy Bradley, along with former Department of Mathematical Sciences colleague Jyotishka Datta (now at Virginia Tech), will bring a wide array of criminal justice and data analytics expertise to the collaboration.

As policing and crime-related issues continue to make headlines around the world and close to home, the Fayetteville Police Department has looked to better understand their policing efforts in order to better respond to and serve the community.

By taking this proactive step in developing the collaboration, the Fayetteville Police Department moves towards data-informed practices in understanding “what works” and evaluating their current and future policing initiatives. These efforts align with FPD’s mission of taking responsive action that provides Fayetteville residents a safe and healthy community.

FPD Chief Mike Reynolds added, “I’m excited for this opportunity to partner with the University of Arkansas faculty from the Department of Sociology and Criminology on this data collection project. This research will enable the Fayetteville Police Department to further legitimize the decision-making process for our internal stakeholders and the broader community.”  

Drawve, who is also the associate director of the Crime and Security Data Analytics Lab, said, “This is an exciting opportunity to work locally  a big part of the U of A’s public land-grant mission – and is a great indicator of FPD’s willingness to become more evidence-based.”

Crime- and data-analysis is not new to law enforcement agencies, Drawve said, but partnerships between researchers and practitioners to conduct more advanced research and evaluation is not common practice.

Beyond assisting the Fayetteville police with their analytical needs, the researchers expect to partner on funding opportunities to implement different prevention strategies, as well as use the project to highlight the skills students will need to have for successful careers at criminal justice agencies or justice-centered non-profit and private-sector organizations.

“Developing researcher-practitioner partnerships geared toward providing community partners with access to the research and evaluation expertise of faculty is a primary area of emphasis for the the Center for Social Research,” said Shaun Thomas, the center’s director. 

About the Crime and Security Data Analytics Lab: The Crime and Security Data Analytics Lab was recently established in the summer of 2020 as part of the University of Arkansas Terrorism Research Center. The lab provides students with crime analysis internship opportunities, as well as research collaborations with public agencies and private corporations. In line with these educational advancements, an undergraduate proficiency certificate in crime analysis is being developed.

About the Center for Social Research: Founded in 1982, the Center for Social Research engages in multidisciplinary and collaborative social science research and evaluation. Our mission is to develop and engage in community partnerships to address complex social issues and contribute to informed decision-making for public good.

About the Department of Sociology and Criminology: The Department of Sociology and Criminology offers three degree programs and four student organizations; affiliation with three research units, including the Center for Social Research, the Community and Family Institute, and the Terrorism Research Center; and research emphases in community, crime, health and well-being, and social data analytics.

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