Implementing Evidence-based PolicingLessons from theory to practiceBy Madison Charman, Barrie Police Service Barrie Police Service’s new evidence-based high visibility police cruisers using a Battenburn design. Police legitimacy in Canadian society is being evaluated more regularly, as the role of policing is being reimagined to better reflect the societal challenges facing communities. With calls to defund police services, resources must be more efficiently and effectively reallocated to best serve the public. The operational and strategic activities of police services need to embrace innovation to ensure the sustainability of the profession.One way to embrace innovation in policing is to adopt evidence-based policing (EBP), and this has been the approach implemented by the Barrie Police Service (BPS). However, this approach is not without its challenges. Throughout this process, we have learned a lot about what it means to “do” EBP and what happens when the research meets the road.What Does EBP Look Like Operationally? EBP has crossed over from an academic concept to a normalized word in the vocabulary of police leadership. However, what does “doing” EBP mean, and what does it look like within a police service setting? “Doing” EBP in policing means that your service is actively using and engaging with existing research on what works and what does not, to inform operational and strategic practices and decision making.Policing can no longer move forward with initiatives and programs without critically questioning their effectiveness. EBP goes further than simply examining data at the surface level. Instead, it looks to employ empirical methods and past findings to question why we do what we do, and to evaluate if our strategies are beneficial or harmful. At the BPS, research is being embedded in all areas of our service, from our deployment model to our approaches to training, youth programming and fleet design.Being a Catalyst for Research Doing EBP could also mean that your service becomes a hub for research projects to further our knowledge when gaps are identified. Existing EBP research findings can be extremely informative for police services; however, there are still many things that we don’t know or don’t have an evidence base for. Furthermore, there is often a disconnect between academia and police operational settings.The BPS has worked to close this gap through partnerships with academic institutions and by investing in a full-time, in-house research position to act as a bridge between the two sides and put EBP into action. The Organizational Researcher also works to translate research findings and knowledge into operational strategies and action items.Implementing the Triple-T Framework Our guiding framework for doing EBP is Dr. Lawrence Sherman’s Triple-T Strategy: targeting, testing and tracking method. Throughout the process, we’ve realized that as a police agency we are not great at completing all three of these elements. Sherman (2013) defines targeting as the first step of the process, where police services identify what issues need the most attention. This involves conducting and applying research to decide what problem or area to target your scarce resources towards. For example, the BPS is actively targeting our top 10 locations of high-harm crimes based on the Canadian Police Reported Crime Severity Index after modifying it using the Cambridge Crime Harm Index (Sherman, 2020; Sherman 2016).Once you choose your target, it is time to implement your new strategy or evaluate your existing strategy to see if it effectively addresses your problem. At the BPS, we are testing a 15-minute hot spot patrol strategy inspired by past research by Braga (1999; 2008; 2012), Kennedy (2015), Ratcliffe (2022), Telep (2014), Kopper (1995; 2015), Sherman (1995) and more.Lastly, and most importantly, activities and outcomes must be continuously tracked. For example, the BPS tracks how many hot spot patrols were completed, where they were completed, who completed them and how long the hot spot check was. Tracking the effectiveness of your implementation and activities are essential for the success of testing strategies. We also track crime harm and volume at these locations to monitor for potential reductions that signal our strategy is effective.Madison Charman is an embedded researcher at BPS and implements EBP in all her work. Lessons Learned Throughout our operationalization of EBP, we have learned that embedding research within a police service setting and culture is extremely challenging. The best example of this was our attempt at implementing and testing an enhanced monitoring approach for intimate-partner violence (IPV) recidivists. Our goal was to test an enhanced monitoring approach for some offenders and compare results to another group of offenders who received business-asusual treatment.When trying to conduct research within your police service, you quickly learn that many things are out of your control. The real world is not like a science lab. There are challenges, nuances and contexts that must be considered because we are testing and working with practices that impact real people’s lives.We hoped to have 50 offenders included in our study but were not able to achieve this in our desired timeline. We realized that participants of police-based research are often part of vulnerable and transient populations. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge we faced in a program meant to enhance the monitoring of offenders was the fact that we couldn’t find them. This makes strategies difficult to follow up with and measure.Another lesson learned was that doing EBP requires a large, front-end personnel and monetary investment. Of course, the goal of EBP is to be more effective and efficient with resources, but to achieve those results, you need to have the resources to complete projects and test strategies. In the example of our IPV project, we didn’t have enough staff to complete the wellness checks. When officers are overloaded and going from call to call, it makes any kind of proactive work difficult. Investments need to be made at the front end to save resources in the long term or else EBP will continuously fail in its implementation phase.We have also learned that organizational buy-in is essential to do EBP. Everyone in your organization, from front line to civilian members to your leadership team, needs to be informed of what EBP is, understand why the organization is doing it and know what it means for them in their day-to-day activities. As a service, this has meant parade visits, continuing education for our members and constant communication with our membership on ongoing projects, goals and results – both good and bad. Part of this buy-in is also the understanding that research projects may not reflect the results you want. There is a chance that you might fail – we have. It does not mean that resources, effort or time was wasted because there was still evidence created. We learned what didn’t work, which means we can now move on to continue to explore what will work.Undertaking EBP in your organization is worth the investment, and it doesn’t have to be done in isolation. Look for partnerships within your community, such as local educational institutions who are working to enhance the policing profession through research. The BPS is happy to connect with agencies looking to adopt EBP in their practices to further share insights and experiences. If at the very worst we fail, then we fail forward and continue to learn.Madison Charman is an embedded researcher at the Barrie Police Service. She holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in criminology and leverages her research skills to fuse evidence-based methods with police practices and policies. She can be contacted at

The Complexity of Police Leadership

Yet leadership effectiveness is, simply put, about people understanding people. It is a skillset that can be learned, and that depends quite simply on leaders investing in themselves. With social-scientific discoveries, self-awareness, and powers of observation and communication, leaders can pull others together around a common goal. Among others, the below three skill sets help to get you there:


Inclusive Workplaces and Fairness in Community Safety

Key lessons learned developing toronto’s equity strategy


Countering Incivility, Harassment, and Discrimination in Policing

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The Leadership Imperative: Leader development in Ontario

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Connect, Lead, Inspire

As policing leaders, there are key elements to consider when it comes to developing outstanding organizations. Opening conference keynote presenter Tanya McCready of the Winterdance Dogsled Tour and author of Journey of 1000 Miles opened the conference with a timely message: time, dedication, trust, and practice are key elements to leadership, as well as ensuring that leaders know their team and where they thrive best.