Center for Public Safety Initiatives


The Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) is a dynamic, multi-disciplinary research center that examines strategies to reduce crime and enhance the administration of justice. It provides program evaluation, data analytics, and project management services to area law enforcement, community non-profits, and other criminal justice professionals, and it contributes to general knowledge generation of the nature and causes of crime and violence.  Its educational goals include training graduate and undergraduate students in strategic planning, program evaluation, and policy analysis.

The Center's research primarily focuses on:

  • Understanding violence and crime.
  • The impact of violence on the broader community.
  • Program evaluation of projects to reduce violence and crime.
  • Intersections between criminal justice, technology, and society.
  • Research examining the administration of justice and the impact of justice processes on society.

The foundation of the Center is the practice of action research in which relevant data and analyses are brought to bear on the day-to-day decision-making processes of organizations. The Center serves the practice of policy development and implementation in real time and is a testing ground for 21st century university engagement, demonstrating how rigorous research and analysis can play a role in improving the lives of society’s most marginalized citizens.

Additionally, the Center for Public Safety Initiatives administers the Monroe Crime Analysis Center and the North Country Crime Analysis Center as part of an agreement with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. It also actively seeks projects where it can bring to bear its unique partnerships, research skills, and educational commitments.

The work of CPSI began in 2000 with work on the problem of lethal violence in Rochester.  Although related work goes back to the early 1990’s under Mayor Tom Ryan, initiatives continued and expanded under subsequent Mayors.  The focus on homicide in Rochester in 2000 involved a research partnership with the Rochester Police, local probation and parole, Monroe County District Attorney and the United States Attorney United States for the Western District, under what was known as the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI).

The SACSI work led directly to the reformulation of crime analysis at RPD which was eventually the model for the Monroe Crime Analysis Center (MCAC) and other analysis centers across the state and are supported by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.  The local analysis center’s key staff began as RIT students working for CPSI. CPSI continues to support crime analysis in Rochester with eight full time employees currently working at MCAC with funding from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The SACSI has also produced several other benefits for Rochester, and became institutionalized with federal funding from Project Safe Neighborhoods.

That an individual's compassion and empathy for others obligates one to a commitment to the cause of social justice.

That citizens deserve public institution that operate efficiently, effectively, and transparently, leveraging best practices in an unyielding effort to improve.

That everyone, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, sexual preference, economic class, or other category, deserves a safe community to live in, and to live free from fear of victimization.

That the world is not just, and is not safe, and is not free from victimization, so we must find ways to change those conditions.

That if you are an academic, and you care about social justice, you must find ways to engage practitioners to do work that helps them, and that if you are a practitioner, you must seek out ways to improve your organization through research and analysis.

That to make these changes, research should be action-oriented, so that it can be applied to practical problems of the real world. 

That science can be used for great good, but can also be manipulated, so your work must always be methodologically rigorous and of the highest ethical standard.

That you do good work because you care about the work. That you don't have to be the smartest to succeed, you just have to be passionate and willing to work harder than others. 

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, that you seek to change the world not only by influencing organizations and systems, but by enlisting people to the cause through teaching and mentorship.

Current Projects

The objective of this project is to study the elements of a non-fatal shooting investigation that are associated with a successful arrest. Types of clearance include Administrative Clearance, Exceptional Clearance, Field, and Cleared by Arrest. In order to ensure public safety, it is important for police departments to clear shooting investigations by arresting the suspect responsible, thereby deterring future activity. The arrest of a suspect is counted as cleared within the clearance rate of a police department, and is listed within the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) published annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Clearance rates are a manner through which a police agency’s effectiveness may be judged; however cases may also be cleared by exceptional or administrative clearance, in which no suspect is arrested. Exceptional clearance is counted the same as an arrest within the UCR (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2004) and may inflate the overall clearance rate.

Dispute-involved gun victimization is traumatic, costly, measurable, predictable--and avoidable. The grant request for $194,540.62 for Community Engagement to Reduce Victimization (CERV) will support engaging community partners with victims of gun violence to resolve underlying disputes with tailored approaches predicted to decrease retaliatory victimization. Retaliatory violence is a serious problem in Rochester, NY. 60% of shootings that occurred in the City between 2010 and 2013 were linked to retaliatory disputes. Existing efforts to address the problem have been in isolation of one another and have failed to adequately leverage community resources to develop a comprehensive, community-based, public-health informed response.

CERV will strengthen safety-net providers in the region, reaching more people by linking previously isolated systems together before new violent events unfold and further victimizations occur. The health care system will connect victims of violent gun trauma to CERV. The Center for Public Safety Initiatives will provide expertise to inform whether the victimization is centered on a dispute. A system of safety net providers will engage and triage appropriate cases with interventions to reduce subsequent gun victimization. The objective of CERV is to improve the quality and effectiveness of the health system in a measurable way by reducing gun violence and trauma victimization; and strive to help safety net providers reach and intervene with gun victims before new victimization events unfold.

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) provides support personnel for the Monroe Gun- Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative, including a dedicated Crime Analyst and Community Engagement Specialist These positions are housed in the Monroe Crime Analysis Center, located at the City of Rochester’s Public Safety Building and jointly supervised by the Rochester Police Department (RPD) and the Consultant. The crime analyst’s activities include developing targeted firearm offender and firearm hotspot programs; coordinating all targeted offender and hotspot based research, planning, and activity between the GIVE partner agencies; as well as creating and maintaining a criteria-based method for identifying high-risk firearm violence offenders, along with other tasks. The Community Engagement Specialist is developing a local communications strategy for firearm violence prevention, promoting GIVE internally and externally though presentations, literature, new media, and strategic marketing, and other activities.

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) at RIT is tasked with managing Monroe Crime Analysis Center (MCAC). CPSI will continue to manage this analysis center for years 2017-2018. MCAC is accountable for all Part I crime categories and intelligence within the designated Police Service Areas (PSAs). The analysts will be responsible daily for maintenance of related data, the identification of crime patterns/trends and dissemination of intelligence products. Additionally, the analysts will work closely with the quad Captains and Investigative Coordinators to supplement problem based action plans and response tactics.

The purpose of the Niagara Falls Project Safe Neighborhoods is to reduce gun crime and gang violence by implementing a strategy that focuses on dispute-related violence. This strategy will be evidence based, research driven, intelligence-led, and involve a strategic problem solving approach to reducing firearm crimes and gang violence. Led by the Niagara Falls Police Department, the Niagara Falls PSN team will utilize enforcement, deterrence, and community outreach/engagement strategies to intervene in ongoing retaliatory disputes and prevent subsequent violence. The objective of the Niagara Falls PSN are to (1) Establish and expand evidence- based programming in Niagara Falls that enables the PSN team to effectively and sustainably prevent and respond to gun crime and gang violence; (2) Establish a sustainable research partnership with RIT’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives that is integrated into the strategic and tactical operations of the PSN team and community agencies; (3) Foster effective and consistent collaborations among law enforcement partners in Niagara Falls, external agencies such Niagara University, and the communities in which they serve that increase public safety and minimize gun crime and gang violence; (4) Create and maintain coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, with an emphasis on prevention, and tactical intelligence gathering.

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) at RIT is tasked with managing current staff at the Northern Country Crime Analysis Center located in Malone, New York. CPSI will continue to manage this analysis center for years 2017-2018. CPSI will help implement evidence based policing strategies and assist in creating its connection with law enforcement agencies in the local area. The primary function of this center is to analyze crime within the area, and to provide this information to local law enforcement to assist in selecting more effective tactics and formulating strategies to significantly reduce crime, with an emphasis on violent crime and gun related crime. The Center is staffed with a team of crime analysts and sworn law enforcement members who support area law enforcement agencies in their efforts to track and reduce Part I Crime.

TIPS is a community outreach program supported by the Rochester Police Department that aims to give residents the opportunity to voice their concerns about their community. RIT provides the community survey for the TIPS events. The survey includes questions regarding what residents like about the community, community concerns about crime, as well as other related questions.

Working papers: 

Project Team

CPSI also supports staff at Monroe County Crime Analysis Center (MCAC) and North Country Crime Analysis Center (NCCAC).

Founding Faculty

John Klofas portraitJohn M. Klofas, Ph.D. is the founder and first director of the Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI).  He served on the faculty of Criminal Justice at RIT from 1989 to his retirement as Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 2020. His tenure included three, occasionally agonizing, stints as department chairperson. As a professor, Dr. Klofas engaged students in the research done through CPSI as well as in demanding, and sometimes frustrating, analyses of issues of crime and justice.  While this may have occasionally annoyed some of those students, their successes are the source of great pride for Dr. Klofas.

Dr. Klofas’ scholarly work and publications focus on community violence, management in criminal justice, police reform and community perspectives on criminal justice. His work with Dr. Irshad Altheimer has focused on preventing retaliatory violence. This approach avoids the hazards associated with some statistical prediction methods by supporting identification and intervention in active violent disputes.     

John has also worked with the United States Department of Justice on projects including serving on the national training team for the Bureau of Justice Assistance’ sponsored Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) violence reduction program, and as co-director of the National Innovation Suite Researcher-Practitioner Fellows Academy.  He also served as a scientific reviewer of criminal justice intervention programs for He has worked on reform in policing for over 20 years as a member of teams overseeing implementation of consent decrees in urban police departments across the country. 

With the founding of CPSI, Dr. Klofas sought to reflect the values he has come to regard as important over his career.  He provided new and demanding experiences for students, and for colleagues. His strong advocacy for locally relevant research is reflected in CPSI’s continuing commitment to work in the community, and in the training of students to contribute to the communities in which they live. His commitment to science is balanced by an equal commitment to justice.

Working Papers

CPSI Local CJ Data Project

Questions of interest concerning local criminal justice systems are often hindered by a lack of available data. Specific information on the criminal justice system is often unknown to members of the community, but is essential for active engagement in a democracy. The Local Criminal Justice Data Project addresses these issues by providing publicly available data to the community. A collection of criminal justice data for Monroe County, NY, includes, police personnel, local crime and arrest data, local budgets for criminal justice departments, jail populations, and other criminal justice costs. The data collected can be found in our Story Map Collection and is also discussed further in our working papers.