The Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) is a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)–sponsored initiative that supports law enforcement agencies in building evidence-based, data-driven law enforcement tactics and strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical. Smart Policing represents a strategic approach that brings more “science” into police operations by leveraging innovative applications of analysis, technology, and evidence-based practices.

With the assistance of CNA (BJA's partner in SPI training and technical assistance), SPI sites—law enforcement agencies and research partners—collect and analyze data to devise evidence-based solutions to target serious crime problems, such as street robberies, substance abuse, repeat violent offenders, retaliatory violence, or gun violence. CNA documents lessons learned and research-tested practices, so as to share proven policing innovations nationwide.

Smart Policing Principles and Practices

Five principles and practices guide Smart Policing. These include:  creating sustainable research partnerships; using technology, intelligence, and data in innovative ways; enhancing collaboration within police agencies and with external agencies and the communities they serve; promoting evidence-based practices in police agencies; and advancing policing practice and science. To achieve these goals SPI sites engage in five key Smart Policing practices:

Performance Measurement and Research Partnerships — SPI purposefully requires systematic research on the implementation and outcomes of policing innovations through police-researcher partnerships. Therefore, members of the SPI community improve the quality of their knowledge base about effective police practices and their confidence in research findings by thoroughly documenting implementation activities, improving performance measurement, and measuring outcomes using comparative evaluation strategies and designs.

Outreach and Collaboration — It is not advisable to go forward with a major new policing initiative (especially one that targets offenders or neighborhoods) without public education, outreach, and “buy in.” Thus, SPI emphasizes communication and outreach at all levels of the police organization and with external government and community stakeholders.

Managing and Sustaining Organizational Change —Successfully sustaining organizational innovation is a challenge for all complex organizations like police agencies. Thus, SPI sites must plan for organizational change, anticipate and overcome obstacles to change, and most importantly, insure sustainability of effective organizational innovations.

Strategic Targeting — Successful innovation with SPI requires practitioner-oriented analysis that helps agencies focus on the small percentage of people and places that account for large percentages of crime. victimization, and public harm..

Making Better Use of Intelligence and Other Data and Information Systems — Smart Policing requires adept and efficient use of data, intelligence, and information resources. Comprehensive Smart Policing data goes beyond traditional police information resources; in addition to analyzing data on calls for service, offenses reported, arrests, and complaints; it uses police intelligence as well as research data (e.g., offender- or location-based studies), data from external entities (e.g., hospital, school, and social services databases), and data from external justice agencies (e.g., probation and parole).

BJA encourages the SPI community to consider the Smart Policing principles and practices as local Smart Policing innovations get underway. Traditional and non-traditional partnerships with public officials, community organizations, and other public service entities are paramount to the successful implementation of economical and effective policing strategies. Smart Policing will benefit an entire community, not only through cost-savings and improvements to public safety problems, but also through the promotion of a sense of community and collaboration.