The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

Exploring the Future of Evidence-Based Policing with Dr. Lawrence Sherman

January 02, 2024 Season 6 Episode 119
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
Exploring the Future of Evidence-Based Policing with Dr. Lawrence Sherman
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Season 6 - Episode 119
Get ready to enter the mind of an expert in evidence-based policing, Dr. Lawrence Sherman, as he takes us on a journey of discovery in the realm of law enforcement.  A New Yorker in the UK.  As the Chief Scientific Officer for the Metropolitan Police and a professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, his experiences are a treasure trove of valuable insights that promise to reshape your understanding of policing. Our discussion recounts his work with the New York City and Minneapolis Police Departments, exploring the implications of his research on corruption, domestic violence, and the use of deadly force.

Larry talks about the potential for efficiency in law enforcement through strategic measures rooted in evidence-based policing. Imagine a world where crime concentration is used intelligently for resource allocation, where precision in policing aids informed decision-making. Dr. Sherman’s experiences with the Metropolitan Police bring this concept to life, amplifying the importance of measuring outcomes in tactics like stop and search. 

The discussion takes on the potential for national policy discussing the value of shared research access, the potential of police chief certification in evidence-based policing, and the intriguing concept of a national barred list for dismissed officers.

We discussed the exciting potential for police reform and accreditation, drawing inspiration from the UK's inspector general system. We chat about the potential creation of an American College of Policing, designed to certify and train police chiefs, fostering evidence-based practices.  

We ask what the future holds for evidence-based policing.  Larry discusses the role of social justice and prevention in shaping law enforcement. Join us for this discussion that shines a light on the future of policing and democracy, creating a path of evidence-based policing.

Contact us: copdoc.podcast@gmail.com

Website: www.copdocpodcast.com

If you'd like to arrange for facilitated training, or consulting, or talk about steps you might take to improve your leadership and help in your quest for promotion, contact Steve at stephen.morreale@gmail.com

Intro-Outro :

Welcome to The Cop Doc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopD oc shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The Cop Doc Podcast.

Steve Morreale:

Well, hello everybody. This is Steve Morreale, coming to you from Boston today. Thank you, it's the afternoon and we are on the other side of the pond near London talking to Dr Lawrence Sherman, who is with the University of Cambridge and also the Chief Scientific Officer for the Metropolitan Police. Hello Larry, hello Steve, thank you so much for finally helping us connect with you. I know how busy you are and what's going on there. You are an American hanging out in the UK. Tell us about that. How did that happen?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, it started 50 years ago or more when I was working in the New York City Police Department and a visiting professor at Columbia Law School, who happened to be the founding director of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge, asked me for some help in putting law students into a research project at the NYPD which in those days was fighting police corruption and 10 officers being murdered. My first year there and many other challenges, but I enjoyed working with Professor Leon Radzinowitz and he very helpfully got me a scholarship to go to Cambridge for a year and that launched me away from going to law school and in favor of staying with policing for the rest of my career, which is what I've done.

Steve Morreale:

So you're a New Yorker right Upstate New Yorker. You were a professor for a long time. Talk about your past, how that happened.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I graduated school and continued to consult the police agencies, doing various research projects. My PhD dissertation was about fighting corruption and four separate police departments two successes, two failures. And then I moved into the police use of deadly force issue. We were run-up the to the Tennessee v Garner decision making empirical contributions, the question of whether police needed to shoot fleeing felons and other issues that led to major policy changes going on in the 80s, the next one of which was the question of police response to domestic abuse, where my mentor, my boss from the NYPD, Tony Bosa, who just died age 94 last June and whose memorial service I led in Minneapolis 10 days ago. Tony Bosa became police chief of Minneapolis and he went to the city council and said in order for us to find out what works best for domestic abuse, need randomized we need control trials. He didn't go to them and say can we arrest people by lottery? But that's actually what they approved unanimously and we did that and in a way that was a kind of evidence-based policing on the model of clinical trials and medicine was the first time police response to individuals was controlled in order to find out the effects of it.

Steve Morreale:

Well, I love the concept that you continue to profess about. Why aren't we adopting and policing what is adopted in medicine and evidence based medicine? You know, you and I have to go to the doctors and certainly the doctor is not going to give me something that hasn't been tried and true and is in trials and has its ups and downs, but it is based on evidence, not based on an opinion. My brother works. It worked for my brother, so why don't you try it? I heard you speak about that in terms of the difference between opinion and evidence based. So let's take advantage of the opportunity that listeners have to hear from you and where that comes from, what your mindset is and how you can push that through police minds to say, yeah, that's not such a bad idea.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I think most police officers become police because they want to help people and, you know, doctors want to cure patients and even prevent disease. But they did it for thousands of years, winding up perhaps killing more people than they saved because they didn't have science. And with the advent of science in the 19th century, people like Semmelweis, who first tested doctors washing their hands after they had done an autopsy. Semmelweis cut the death rate in the maternity clinics where they were going after the autopsies by about two thirds and he led to really what was in effect the first trial in medicine that had such broad consequences life saving. Not right away, mind you, because he was a very difficult person to deal with, unlike me, of course but he was his own worst enemy in terms of selling the idea of doctors washing their hands. But he replicated. First he did in Vienna, then he did in Budapest and today we still face a problem in getting doctors to wash their hands. But at least they don't go from autopsies to the maternity clinic. And that revolution in how you can prevent harm, how you can really help people, rather than just saying, well, I intend to help people and that's enough. Good intentions I don't think good intentions are enough. You need to have the best outcomes. And if you have a good outcome from something that's been tested and somebody else has a better idea, and if you test that and it does better than you go to that one. As John Maynard Keynes said, when the facts changed, I changed my mind.

Steve Morreale:

What do you do? That's has a great quote that plays in. Well, and think about what we just went through with the covid epidemic and how they were pushing washing something as simple as washing hands. What you're starting to talk about is creating a test from just a simple question if we wash hands, will we reduce harm? And it seems to me and I know let's talk about Cambridge for a minute and all you're doing and the students that you're bringing in here and so many who leave there with a new idea, a new concept, and bring it to other organizations worldwide.

Lawrence Sherman :

Talk about the impact that has had, larry well, I have to say that for the last year I've been working full time in London at Scotland Yard, yes, and I've been guest lecturing at Cambridge and will continue to do so for as long as I'm invited as part of my charitable activity, you might say. But to be an emeritus professor at a university that has been able to bring up close to a thousand police leaders to a master's degree program over the last 30 years in which they have been able to ask those questions say, how do we know that it's better to do this than that? That's not something that regularly comes up in a police agency, at least not with the rigor of trying to find out precisely with reliable methods. Is this better than that one? And it's that quest for precision which Sir Mark Rolly, the current commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who was a mathematics graduate from Cambridge before he became head of counterterrorism for four years and managed incredibly complicated issues of priorities and risk analysis over all of the potential terrorists that were known in Britain at the time what he's seeking is to do by other words, perhaps different strategies and emphasis, but he really wants to make policing more effective through better precision in everything we do, including trying to persuade people that the police are trustworthy, trying to persuade police to follow procedural justice principles and interacting with citizens, essentially using our resources, our scarce resources, as well as we can, with huge increases in demand.

Steve Morreale:

We're talking to Dr Lawrence Sherman and he is now the chief scientific officer at Metropolitan Police in London, in UK, and affiliated still with the University of Cambridge. So let's talk about this new job. How is it that your boss found the need, the desire to have a chief scientific officer?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I wouldn't say that it was something. He got up one morning and said, hmm, I need to have a chief scientific officer. I will confess that most of the things that I wanted to do in my life I had to sell people on. The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment is a good example, because it was not something that had been done before, but I thought it was very important to do. Actually, in terms of being the chief scientific officer of a police department with a portfolio of science projects to improve the police performance of that agency, that's really something I did with Tony Bosa, who was chief for nine years in Minneapolis, during which time the local newspapers described the police force as a crime lab, but not by detecting forensic evidence, by detecting experimental evidence on what works in policing. And we not only discovered the concentration of crime in hotspots first in Minneapolis, we then tested the concentration of policing in hotspot patrols, first in Minneapolis, and since then over 80 other experiments have been conducted, finding similar, not identical, results in different places. As David Weisberg has shown, the pattern of concentration of crime in a very tiny portion of the space of any city, or even country towns, has held up all over the world, wherever we have the data and that kind of concentration on what's called a power few distribution rate. It's not a bell curve, it's not that you have people who are really good at one end, really bad at the other end and most people are in between. When we look at where crime happens in space or even look across offenders or victims, it's all about a big concentration at the tail of one end of the distribution, that 5% that drives 50 or 60. In the case of victims in Dorset, one of our students at Cambridge found that 85% of all of the harm to victims was concentrated in under 4% of all of the victims who had reported crimes in a year. And when you see how you can invest resources by concentrating where the harm is greatest, that's really a principle. That's older than what we did with Tony Boza but Minneapolis Police Department in the 80s, where I served as a de facto but not actually appointed, I was working full time for the police foundation or the Crime Control Institute in the University of Maryland. But what Tony Boza was supporting was a program of science that was led by fairly independent role that I played in deciding what science to do and how to do it, and then I had to go out and raise money for it.

Steve Morreale:

But that's all part of the job and, of course, Well, so the question that I just threw here and, by the way, we're talking to Lauren Sherman, he is in the United Kingdom right now and has been for many, many years and we're talking about evidence-based policing and using evidence in policing. But I think to myself, having supervised a number of dissertations, sometimes struggling and helping students or people who are interested find the right question, refined of the right research question. So I'm curious to know from you, larry, let's take you to your role with Metropolitan Police. You're sitting around a table. How are you extracting those topics before you seek to define the research question, the important research question? What are the things that you talk about around the table?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, generally we talk about the challenges that face the Metropolitan Police, the criticism that may be received at Scotland Yard when this policeman's conduct, criticism over how to handle public protests in London, which is like a world capital of public protests. Just a few weeks ago, we had a half a million people walking through the streets very near to where I live. One way or another, every day brings challenges, with people saying you should have done it this way, you should have done it that way. So clearly, there are untold opportunities to see who's right about doing it this way or that way, and that's also possible to do in a way that's very constructive, in which people may have pointed out criticisms. For example, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his book Talking to Strangers in 2019, a lot of the stop and search done all over the democratic world is done in low crime areas and the whole point of stop and search, which is a very intrusive tactic and causes post-traumatic stress and associated with depression and other psychological conditions with people who have been searched for the rest of their lives that challenge to stop and search is one that can be met. If we say that when we stop and search in areas of high violence. It's a collateral damage that's justified and proportionate because in the Kansas City gun experiment, in Pittsburgh and many other places we've shown that stop and search takes guns off the street, keeps people from carrying the guns, reduces shootings and murders.

Steve Morreale:

If I can interrupt. So when you're looking at these things and I'm trying to put this in context of a police officer who is simply driving tonight and just passing the time listening that I like what you were saying. It's about measuring outcomes. In other words, if we do this, this is the outcome, we're having a positive income, we're reducing crime in that particular area. If we do this, if saturation patrols or whatever it is that you do a stop and fresco or stop and search, talk about that in terms of looking to figure out that outcome measurement.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, the outcome measurement is pretty straightforward and about 10 tests in the United States have shown that if you take high violence areas and you concentrate stop and search in those areas, you reduce gun violence. You reduce very high levels of harm. But what it can't show is that if you do stop and search in an area that doesn't have any crime, then you're really wasting your efforts but, even worse, you're causing harm to people because stop and search is not without its consequences and you can't justify it. It's not proportionate, it's not reasonable and it's certainly not equal to the harm that is being created elsewhere where you might not be doing stop and searches and you should be doing so. This is the kind of precision that we're trying to bring in policing. There's lots of honest, dedicated officers who want to save lives who are doing stop and search tonight and they're not focused because their department has appointed them to the less than 5% of areas that have most of the weapons violence in that community. And that's what we're trying to do with what we call precision. Stop and search here in London, where we have a very low homicide rate, but it's still too high 100 homicides a year anywhere is too high, even if it's a city of almost 10 million and therefore much safer than New York or other cities of comparable size in the US. What I have to say about this is that what we want to do is to help officers do the things they join the police to do, which is to save lives, to help to protect people, to make a difference. And you can't just do that by yourself. You need a system, you need an organization that's based on good data and good systems for assigning officers to go some places and not others, and that kind of cuts into the culture of you getting a police car you drive anywhere your instincts take you, and that's the way it's always been done. Actually, wasn't the way it always been done? When the police started in London in 1829, they were given very strict Directed patrol instructions and if they didn't show up to meet their sergeant at exactly the right time, at exactly the corner specified, they were dismissed. And the majority, the cops who were hired in 1829, were dismissed in part because they were drinking on the job we had to establish a new standard about that but also because they didn't want to comply with the kind of directed patrol that was part of the whole theory of preventing crime in London and and Incidentally that theory worked homicide went down in London and then all the way across England after 1839 when most cities Created a police force. So this idea of abolishing or defunding the police has had evidence against it for almost two centuries. And that evidence is stronger if we put the police in the right place to do the right things at the right times.

Steve Morreale:

I wrote a couple of things down as you're talking, and you've already Volunteered the terms that I would have thrown the dreaded directed patrol. I just know what. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I understand that a department. So we've heard terms like this Intelligence-led policing, data-driven decision-making and, of course, evidence-based policing. Evidence-based policing can't happen without Looking at the data, in other words, pointing to where the incidents are occurring, at what time, at what time of day, on what days. I mean that begins to help you focus, almost be surgical, on where we have to put our attention. Talk about that.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I actually think that's one small part of evidence-based policing, because evidence-based policing Also includes doing things anywhere, at any time, that are supported by evidence. A good example of that is procedural justice. If you interact with people anywhere for any reason and, incidentally, it's not only true police, it's also true of doctors, it's true of managers and leaders and organizations if you follow the four principles of procedural justice that have been developed over 50 years in Psychology laboratories and out in the field, and with a recent experiment led by David Westford, anthony Braga and others, if you follow the principle of respect of the person you're interacting with, which includes Listening to that person as the second pillar, you listen respectfully and you try to Foster the view that you're being neutral, that you don't have a bias against this person. You haven't made your mind up already that you're really open to the facts? That those three pillars Plus the one that's most often forgotten, which is why am I here, why are we having this conversation? The answer is I'm here to help you and the community. I'm doing a stop and search because I want to reduce gun violence and the evidence says that if you explain those things to people, they'll be much more cooperative, they'll have higher levels of trust in the police. Policing by consent, police legitimacy All those things can be served because we have good evidence about how people feel about the police if they're treated in that way. So it doesn't require directed patrol. It may be a good thing to have along with stop and search, but in itself it's evidence-based policing based on testing of a way of interacting with people. So the three T's that we've taught at Cambridge for over a decade, three T's of evidence-based policing, are targeting the right people who are causing the most harm, or the right places or the right times of day, the right victims who are suffering the most harm. That selection of where are you going to put your attention. That's that's first T of targeting. The second T is testing to see whether what you're doing with those targets is working. And the third T is tracking, which is really important, and it's something that with the GPS in police radios and police phones handheld phones we now have a system in London where we can measure through pings where 22,000 officers are at any given five Five-minute interval, because that's how long things are, and the ping of the radio telling us where the police are Gives us more information about what I like to call the police barometer. What's the relationship between police presence and distribution of crime, crime harm as well as crime volume? And that tool is something that we can apply to a variety of problems like antisocial behavior or disorder, disorderly conduct, we would say in the us, these ways of understanding the tracking of policing, and that if we don't track Like they did in 1829 with the sergeants meeting the constables if we don't track we don't know what the police are doing. I sat in Comstat meetings in New York City in the 1990s and we heard precinct commanders saying and the officers are concentrating over on this street, fine, nobody ever challenged that. But there's no metric, there's no evidence that actually the police were there. And what we can do now with the digital tracking from gps Is to measure exactly how much of the time a community police officer is in that community. We call them dedicated board officers. We've never been able to measure how much time they spend in the ward, which they might like us to, because very often they get Given radio fonts jobs and they'd rather stay in the neighborhood and work with the people who they're trying to partner with to make it a safer neighborhood. So those three T's I think are really critical and if we take evidence-based policing as being any one of those T's, we bring a high level of precision to a broad dimension, broad range of police activities.

Steve Morreale:

So we're talking to Dr Lawrence Sherman. He is the chief scientific officer at the Metropolitan police in London and one of the things that is conjuring in my mind is when these tests are conducted and the data is analyzed and the reports are written. Where do police find these? I know I was talking to Lorraine Mazarro and she was saying that she was starting to put together a mass Basically as much of this evidence in one place. Nih has that. You're in England, but in the United States NIH has this database. Is there such a database?

Lawrence Sherman :

Yes, lorraine Mazarro at University of Queensland has made more progress than anybody in creating what she calls the global policing database, and what you can get if you get access to that through a university library or some other source is an incredible Volume of studies. Just in terms of controlled experiments on the medical model, there's now over 700 of that have been registered. Not all of them fully reported yet, but my colleague, peter Naver at the University of Cambridge, and now my successor, is head of the police executive master's degree program. He's been tracking the number of random, honest clinical trials in policing for over 10 years and the rate of growth is increasing. So it's a really important point that if we're going to do policing in the best possible way with the most successful outcomes, we need to have shared access to all of this research. We need to have both free availability of it for every professional police hall and, incidentally, nih, and it's a database of medical studies. It's available right here in Britain. I use it all the time to check things relevant to policing. So what happens when we make that information available is maybe nothing if nobody knows about it, if it's not part of the requirement, if you don't have to have a certain a level of knowledge of policing to pass a certification to become a police chief, for example. So if we had, like, certified public accountants, if we had certified police executives, and they all had to somehow acquire this knowledge, not to go to Harvard with it, but to study it, perhaps from freely available sources, and pass an examination on evidence based policing, and maybe a combination of leadership and evidence about what works in policing, that might give us a real incentive for people. If the states, for example, were to require that police chiefs be certified in order to be in command of a police force larger than 10 officers or some minimum threshold. That's the way I think we can help to really follow in the footsteps of medicine, because medicine used to let anybody be a doctor, and then they introduced tests and said you can't be a doctor unless you prove you got the knowledge and you got the skills. And so it's a combination of practical and knowledge based testing that assures us that when we go to the doctor we're getting competent treatment, and that's where I think we can go with evidence based policing.

Steve Morreale:

So it's a bit different in the United States and certainly you know that because you spent so much time here in your native of New York. There are so many different agencies here. It seems so much harder to drive ideas through the 17,000 different agencies in.

Intro-Outro :

America.

Steve Morreale:

Not with the larger organizations. I understand through major city chiefs and such. It's not that you don't have that many over in the uk. Do you see it a little bit differently?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I think there is more national policy possible in a country of 60 million people Than in a country of 330 million people, no matter how they're organized. But if we think about specifics, the 50 states is actually pretty close to the 50 territorial police forces in the uk, and at the state level we have a number of really interesting developments. Not just Florida, but I think now several other states have a barred list, which means that once you've been dismissed from one police agency in the state, you can't be hired by any other police agency in the state. In effect, you lose the right to have a license to be a police officer. Now, because the us started that, the uk imitated it and when the college of policing was created and I was on the first board of directors, we went ahead and implemented a statutory power from the parliament to create a national barred list and since 2017, we've posted close to 2000 officers and non-sworn employees who are not allowed to be hired in any of the territory of police agencies in England and Wales. Doing that, I think, has also helped us to understand better how we hired the people who are getting dismissed for low convictions in many cases. We're currently undertaking a study that compares the people who are on the barred list to the people they were hired with, who didn't get fired and dismissed from service, in many cases before their pension. So there's all sorts of things that the UK can learn from the United States.

Steve Morreale:

And vice versa. I might say you know that.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I think it's really good to keep looking at good ideas and good facts about those ideas and with the state as the power to create the 18,000 police forces in the United States, with the exception of a few hundred federal agencies, but it's the state that authorizes a county or a city or a village to create a police force. And if we had an inspector general police in every state, the way we have an inspector general of policing that writes reports on all of the local police forces in the UK, I think an inspector general system at the state level would do a lot to help ensure quality with many of the forces that one reason or another have been challenged for quality and integrity, and to restore trust by having that certification in much in the same way that hospitals get accreditation, that doctors have to complete continuing professional development and so on. If we don't do those things, we're really underestimating the complexity and the difficulty and the huge amount of knowledge and skill that's required to be a good police officer.

Steve Morreale:

You know that's interesting, larry. I didn't expect to go down this road with you. I'm very glad we are. You've been at this for such a long time and I see you as the father of, and maybe on a team of fathers of, evidence-based policing. But when we talk about standards and raising standards and that whole call for reform here in the United States and across the globe for sure with the George Floyd episode it strikes me I like what you say, because getting the states engaged could be very valuable. But what also troubles me is accreditation in this country is voluntary, it's not required, right? You understand that. So we see an awful lot of posts that we began. We're in Massachusetts now and they just created a post for the first time in California, florida. They've had it forever. But there's one thing that I've heard Bill Bratton talk about and certainly I've talked about it, and you just spoke about the College of Policing. Does that belong in the United States? Is it past time?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I have been talking to a number of people for at least a decade about an American College of Policing that would be doing what the College of Policing in the UK has done with chief officers since the 1960s, and that is to select and then certify people who are in effect licensed to be a police chief. And that license includes not only the chief constable but also the deputy chief and the assistant chief and, increasingly, civilian staff officers who operate at the chief officer level. So, despite never having been a sworn police officer, I am now a chief officer and I belong to the union of Isn't that something huh. So I pay my union dues and I'm very proud to be a chief officer in this system in the UK. Why did that system get set up? Well, it wouldn't be surprising to you to hear that there was a scandal in Brighton and actually 140 Somme police agencies were under great suspicion because there had been so much too close connections between local politicians and the police chief and the way the police chief got appointed, in relation to various nightclubs etc. All of that led to a Royal Commission on the police reduction ultimately to 43 instead of 150 Somme, and that reduction in the number of police forces also led to this system of licensing the police chief. So again, I don't think we could do that in the United States at the national level, because the states are the ones that, under the 1787 draft of the Constitution, have all the powers to do those kinds of things within the states. But that said, wouldn't it be great to have even 10 or 20 of the 50 states in the US following a model that says this is really complicated stuff? We want to have people who are well trained and vetted, that is to say tested in a substantive and reliable way, to be qualified to hold a job of that difficulty and complexity.

Steve Morreale:

Yeah, the way it's done now. I mean I know there's all kinds of opportunities out there from SMIP with Perf and at least the United States and Harvard has it. You've got Northwestern and Louisville, the Southern Police Institute, but there's no. That's troubling to me and I think, plant the seed and to hear what you're saying, I think that's a great idea, and I actually must say that I've been talking about one that's based in the United States, but the state by state idea is much more manageable, I believe. So thank you for that.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, you're not exclusive, but you just quickly say that if you had a state that adopted the standard of a national college of policing, that was voluntary, and that's the way most accreditation actually becomes required. It starts with a voluntary association. They set it up a hospital accreditation as a prime example. They set it up and then this legislators say you can't do this unless you get their approval, and so they go on being a private organization. But they are endorsed and therefore required by state law, and I think that's easily worked out. Well, not easily, but certainly legally it's possible to do that in the United States as well.

Steve Morreale:

So the idea of evidence based policing which we were talking to, Lawrence Sherman, in this episode, it is beginning to gain some traction, but it's still I won't say it's in its infancy stage, but there's still some resistance. And one of the things, Larry, I wonder and then I ask you what are you doing to try to rewrite some of the study material into more bite sized pieces and more translational, if you will, translational research, so that it can be disseminated? What are you doing in that regard? Because certainly the way we write as academics can be very dense, but we trim that out so that it is understandable for the average police officer.

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I believe in division of labor and I also believe that I can't do it all. So the best answer to your question is I'm not engaged in what I think could be a very full and lifelong career in translating basic science research into police practice. But there are plenty of people who are doing that and I want to support them every way I can. I do a fair amount of training in the Metropolitan Police, including things that are pretty big concepts like procedural justice, and I apply it with the officers I train to things like stop and search. So it's very specific, very operational. It's also based on very strong science, and if we introduce that training at the recruit level and assess whether it makes a difference in the way the recruits are interacting with citizens according to their body worn video footage, we will have a good test of whether the way that we train people works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't mean it can't work, it just means that particular way didn't do it, and so we need a whole developmental approach to finding how to convey the information that is based on good research showing that if you treat people that way, they will trust you more. Policing will get better consent from the population. Another good example which most police agencies in big cities are facing around the world is police recruitment. We have a huge falloff in not only recruitment but retention. New York City lost a record number of people last year more resignations than retirements and we don't have enough research on Recruitment. We don't know what the messages are that will compel people to consider a police career. We don't know what the media are by which we can reach them Whether we should send them postcards or send them Facebook messages or God knows what. And, most important, we don't know which markets to go. We don't know where there will be more interests than has historically been the case. Should we be writing to University alumni pages? Should we be writing the former Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Who should we be targeting? And that's partly a question of who can we persuade? And one set of studies actually writes to every Registered voter in a place like Chattanooga, where they did it and when they did that, they got them. They got more applications, they got a more diverse set of applications, and it was in a controlled trial. So this is where science can come in and solve a lot of problems, or help to solve a lot of problems, if we will just Continue to use the basic scientific approach to answering the questions, and once you answer it, it may not be all that complicated to explain it, just if it's careful science and you can say this kind of letter didn't bring in many applicants to the police. This kind of letter did end a story.

Steve Morreale:

Let's use this one you know, I just heard you. I don't mean to use the word ramble, but you just so easily went down a list of questions. It's almost I love what you're doing because you're saying, hi, what's the issue, but I want you to talk about that. In other words, you're sitting in a room and you begin to start throwing a bunch of questions about this Okay, let's talk about recruiting and you started to throw this and this and this, and what about that, and what about this and what about that? I want to get into that mind for a minute. What drives you? I know it becomes natural for you, but what drives you to investigate in that way?

Lawrence Sherman :

Oh look, it's a vocation. It's like, you know, a medieval monk, except that I'm married and very happily playing with my grandchildren. Nonetheless, I think if you're really passionate about something as I believe many police officers are about their vocation Then you're constantly interested in everything and you need to be curious about it, because there are a lot of people who are Passionate about what they're doing, but they're not curious about it. They don't want to know how to do it better, they want to do it the way they're doing it, and they don't want somebody to tell them that they're doing it wrong. I, on the other hand, am constantly wondering whether we're doing it right or whether we can do it better. And what? Who was it? Ford has a better idea. One of the as far as it was for it. Yeah, yeah, ford has a better idea and somebody else brings new ideas to life. That's the kind of marketing that policing should have, not to the population but to the profession. Let's get everybody in policing to be an innovator who's willing to say, oh, that idea didn't work better, forget about that one and try something else. That's the attitude as opposed to I had this great idea and it's gonna work, no matter what. And don't don't confuse me with the facts. I'm just gonna. I understand that we can't fail when we try to do it because we're so good. Yeah, I like that.

Steve Morreale:

So there's a couple other things as we begin to wind down. I've said to so many people and I've interviewed a number of people who had been with the NIJ leads program and Fascinating to me and maybe the use and the means of the world I wish that was available for us many, many years ago, because I see some tremendous value with new ideas and helping Younger practitioners and scholars work together, which is amazing. What's your take on the leads program?

Lawrence Sherman :

Well, I don't know that much about it, although I do know some people who have been in it, and they're outstanding people and it sounds to me like a place for curious Problem solvers and innovators to go and talk to other people like themselves, not in a way that reinforces their worst attributes, in a way that helps them to develop their best.

Steve Morreale:

Yeah, it seems to me it's an incubator of sorts, and very often what happens is they're coming back from that group. As you and I have gone to Conferences, you can come back with some new ideas not that we don't have enough already to do, but that's what. What strikes me, there's something that you've said and I saw on LinkedIn that I would love to have you repeat, if you would. You were talking about Operational independence and you were talking about opinion decision-making as opposed to evidence-based. Can you speak to?

Lawrence Sherman :

that, or the idea that the hierarchical organization has the person at the top who can make a decision, is Something that works. When you have opinion-based policing because, as the deputy commissioner of Western Australia police, steve Brown, who was a student at Cambridge in our course, he once said to a room full of 200 people he said we don't do evidence-based policing Then my opinion is more important than yours because I'm the deputy commissioner and you're not. But he says, if we have evidence-based policing, everybody's opinion is subject to the evidence, including mine. And if you have evidence that something works and I don't have evidence to counter that then you should win, because our standard needs to be what does the evidence show, not who's the most powerful person in the room, but you talk about that with opinion from politicians and the impact of the Opinion versus evidence-based and how it could move policing to a different realm, and I really want to hear that from you so the audience hears that well, let me just say the biggest difference between the American police of the 21st century and the British police of the 21st century is the principle of operational independence, which says that under a rule of law, the politicians may not tell the police what to do, can't say who to arrest, can't say which march to stop. All of that is Protected, as it would be for a judicial decision that a elected politician can't tell a judge how to rule in a cave. Now the Metropolitan police started out with some ambiguity about that and the second home secretary they worked for after appeal guy named Melbourne, who went on to become Prime Minister but who ordered the police to stop a demonstration in favor of getting more people the right to vote, and they said you don't have a legal basis to do it. He said I'm ordering you to go out and stop that demonstration. They did that. Many police got injured, one got killed, 16 people were prosecuting for murder of the officer and the 16 people were acquitted on the grounds that the police had acted unlawfully and hadn't read the riot act and a variety of other things. And then the home secretary said well, you know it's a terrible thing. I'm sorry the police did it, it wasn't my idea, it was their idea when he had given them a direct order. And then, after he testified to that effect, the commissioner, Sir Richard Main, later nighted in fact he read from his notes saying that, over our objections, the home secretary is ordering us to do this. So that was like a defining moment of the operational independence of the police and we had it just recently in London over the prime minister and the home secretary asking police, commissioner, to stop a demonstration in favor of Palestine on Remembrance Day on the 11th of November. And the law was very clear you have to have intelligence that says it's going to be major violence. The commissioner said publicly we don't have the intelligence, we don't have the legal right based on the facts to stop that demonstration, to stop actually a march, and the home secretary wrote a column attacking the police for being biased, in favor of the left wing and not the right wing, whatever that was in circumstances, and the commissioner remained silent. And three days later the prime minister dismissed the home secretary and the operational independence of the commissioner was upheld and nobody, I think, has anything to the contrary to say about it, because it's such an important part of the rule of law that sadly, with mayors appointing police chiefs and then firing them at will, you can't achieve that in the same way you can when you have a five-year binding contract which prevents you from firing a police chief at will, dr Darrell Bock.

Steve Morreale:

Thank you. Thanks for explaining that, harry. Where do you see evidence-based policing headed in the next decade? Are there technologies or trends that will change the trajectory of evidence-based policing in the world, dr.

Lawrence Sherman :

Harry Steele. I think that it's not likely to be technology that would make the difference. I think it's much more likely to be the trends in demand for social justice, a demand for the peace that comes from the police, focusing on prevention rather than punishment, and to be able to maintain lower levels of violence in cities like Minneapolis, where my daughter and two grandchildren live. It will require that we have enough police officers to do the job. Now, minneapolis has lost a huge number of officers in the wake of the George Floyd disaster and murder, and what I think is important for us to realize is that if we go on blaming our police officers for the failure of our nations to resolve racism and inequality and deprivation and all of the things that create conflict, including basic politics, if we blame the police, for example, with the January 6th attack on the US Capitol in 2021, we're not going to be a safe nation, we're not going to have the rule of law, we're not going to have the democracy as we all wanted it to be, and therefore, what we need to do is to go back to basics, stop talking about abolishing the police and start talking about how we can make the people the police and the police, the people, as one of the early phrases about the Scotland Yard put the description of what Sir Robert Peale wanted as the first Home Secretary. What I think we need, and what will shape evidence-based policing as well as democratic policing and in fact, the whole future of democracy, is we need people to believe in institutions, and the trend is that the younger you are, the less likely you are to believe in any institution not just the police, but the doctors and the teachers and the researchers doing vaccine studies. Nobody wastes much time in considering whether we like all that stuff. We're kind of anointed everybody, and I think as long as we have a society that treats its major institutions so badly that they may get what they deserve, which is not the kind of society they want to live in. In a way, both Britain and the United States are coasting on the trust that the previous generations had built in the institutions that gave much more access to higher education, that gave much more access to health care and other advancements and protecting old people against poverty. These are all ways that the world has changed in my lifetime, but younger people don't know how bad it was, they don't know how much better it is and they really need to have more facts, more evidence, to understand why we should have faith in the judiciary, why we should have faith in the police, why we should have faith in education and medicine and science. And that's why I'm a chief science officer, because I believe that science is fundamental to appreciating how knowledge is essential to have a better world.

Steve Morreale:

Well, clearly, police cannot do their job without collaborating with other organizations and, as you just said, the societal ills of our world are very often dumped in the laps of policing and that's unfortunate. As we finish, I would ask you this what are the positive or the optimistic views you have of policing in the future, if we continue to work on using evidence and hiring better people and dealing with mental health issues and some of those things? I'm working with the guard as they get ready to try to do a mental health and co-response unit in Limerick in the next. I think it's starting in January and they can't do it without psychiatric nurses in the cars. And what do you see optimistically about policing?

Lawrence Sherman :

I see a new generation of police officers who may spring back into action after this decline in trust in the police over the past decade. Worldwide we may find a kind of boomerang effect or roller coaster After a while. Most young people want to be sort of counter cyclical, contrary to the preventing culture, and I think that's in a way what happened in the 90s, after the 60s led us to have more faith in economic development and technology. That's when we got the internet, that's when we got a lot of things that some ways cause problems, but they also caused enormous progress and that's why the homicide rate went down. I think overall, there was more feeling of equality, of a shared community in the United States in the 90s and I think we can return to that with any luck. Our trends in the next 20 years will create an opportunity for the best police we've ever had, the best equipped, the best educated and the most committed to the fundamental principles of human rights. That's great.

Steve Morreale:

Well, we've been lucky enough to talk with Lawrence Sherman, and he is the chief scientific officer in Metropolitan Police Department, the UK. What's on your bucket list, larry? What do you want to do? Still my bucket list.

Lawrence Sherman :

I think what I'd like to do is to be able to see some of the things that I was just describing. I'd like to see every police chief be well read and learned in what we know about what works in policing and what doesn't. Some people might say this is a fantasy list, but I don't think so. I've seen so much progress just in the UK in the 15 years I've been here and we now have close to 10% of the chief postibles have taken the master's degree course at Cambridge where they learned about evidence-based policing. Some of our tools, like the crime harm index, is widely spreading. All in all, I see good progress at the top. Not much progress throughout the rank and file, but if the top can lead the way to a trickling down and perhaps a pushing up from the recruit training on more use of knowledge and evidence in policing, then you're going to see my bucket list happen.

Steve Morreale:

That's great. I wish you the best of luck and it's so, so nice to be able to chat with you Again. We've been talking to Larry Sherman in the UK. I'm Steve Morreale and you've been listening to The Cop Doc Podcast. Listen in to other episodes and if you have an idea, please reach out. Thanks for listening.

Intro-Outro :

Thanks for listening to The Cop Doc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager, turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into The Cop Doc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.

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Evidence-Based Policing and National Policy
Police Reform and Accreditation
Exploring Police Training and Recruitment Challenges
The Future of Evidence-Based Policing

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