DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • Tuesday, January 18, 2011
  • Contact: Office of Justice Programs
  • Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
  • (202) 307-0703

Justice Department Publications Debate the Role of Science in Police Policy
and Practice

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today announced the release of two papers resulting from the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, a roundtable managed by Harvard Kennedy School's Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and funded by NIJ.

The current Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety series concluded its first session of 2011 last week. Participants included policing and public safety executives, academic professionals, and NIJ Director, John Laub.

"These two papers are a perfect reflection of the spirit of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety -- vigorous, thoughtful debate about fundamental ideas that will shape the future of policing in America and around the world," said Laub.

Police Science: Toward a New Paradigm was written by Harvard Executive Session members David Weisburd and Peter Neyroud. The authors assert that police agencies should be less hesitant to adopt evidence-based policies and practices, and encourage police agencies to move toward a science-based policing paradigm. The authors define five tenets of this new paradigm: education and training, leadership, academic-police relationship, development of practice, and investment in research. They argue that a fundamental change in the relationship between research and practice must take place for relevant police science to develop, and make the case for the adoption of evidence-based policies and practices by the police profession.

In contrast, Harvard Executive Session member Malcolm Sparrow states favoring evidence-based practices drawn from social science research frameworks will be detrimental to the practice of policing. Sparrow's paper, Governing Science, is a direct response to Weisburd and Neyroud's Police Science, and argues that evidence-based practices generated through social science methods are contrary to the realities of policing.

These documents were prepared in consultation with all members of the Harvard Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.

TITLES: Police Science: Toward a New Paradigm and Governing Science, part of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety series published by NIJ.
AUTHORS: David Weisburd and Peter Neyroud (Police Science), and
Malcolm Sparrow (Governing Science)
AUTHORS: National Criminal Justice Reference Service (Weisburd and Neyroud) (Sparrow)

Additional papers published as part of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety series can be found at


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