A local police chief has become only the second Canadian officer to join a U.S. policing Hall of Fame.
South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher accepted an award in June as one of six new inductees into the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame at George Mason University in Virginia.
“I was shocked and extremely honoured,” Fletcher said.
He was nominated by the Canadian Society of Evidence Based Policing, which partners with South Simcoe Police for research projects.
Fletcher was recognized for his advocacy for evidence-based policing in South Simcoe and as a member of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
Evidence-based policing refers to taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to policing, especially with new programs.
Researchers work in tandem with police officers from the beginning, gathering data before and after a new program is launched to study its effectiveness and other factors.
For example, before South Simcoe Police Service moved from DARE to its new #BTRU program, it got PhD researchers involved to assess students who did and did not take the program, Fletcher said. Researchers are working with local school boards to see whether they can access the same students every year to reassess the effects of the program.
“Did we change the outcome of that person for the better?” Fletcher said.
South Simcoe police have also used evidence-based policing research with its COAST team, which aims to reduce how much time front-line officers spend on mental-health calls, he said.
Normally, Fletcher added, police use “reactionary data,” including type and number of offences, to determine where police patrol in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
The PhD researchers South Simcoe police work with are mostly Canadian, from schools such as Carleton and Wilfrid Laurier universities.
There is no added cost to include more evidence-based policing, other than staff time to get some information for researchers, Fletcher said, adding the researchers apply for grants to do the work.
The Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame recognizes innovative law enforcement practitioners who are “relentless champions of institutionalizing evidence-based practices,” according to the George Mason University website.
“These leaders of evidence-based policing not only help make high-quality police scholarship possible but also advance significant reforms in policing by utilizing science in their decision making.”
This year’s other recipients include police officers, another chief, assistant chief, and a public safety analyst from Virginia, California and Iowa, respectively.
While Fletcher was honoured to receive the award, he said it would not have been possible without the hard work of front-line officers.
“It does take leadership from the top to say, ‘Yes, we’re going to do it,’ (but) it’s the people here who are doing the work,” he said.