Center for Public Safety Initiatives

Overview

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives is a unique collaboration between RIT's Department of Criminal Justice, the City of Rochester, and the criminal justice agencies of Greater Rochester including the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Crime Lab. Its purpose is to contribute to criminal justice strategy through research, policy analysis and evaluation. Its educational goals include training graduate and undergraduate students in strategic planning and policy analysis.

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.

Faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students are currently working on projects through the Center for Public Safety Initiatives. The Center for Public Safety Initiatives 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.

As the fiscal agent for many projects, CPSI brought funding to local agencies in the amount of 10.8 million dollars over the past 8 years to help address the issue of violence and crime in Rochester.

Through the US Department of Justice, CPSI also brought funding for the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI).  Of that, significant funding went for law enforcement, principally through RPD; it also went for anti-gang services thorough. We are also working with RPD on a Department of Justice SMART policing initiative involving addressing dispute related violence in Rochester.

For a complete list of partner CPSI works with please refer to the "Sponsor and Partners" page of this website.

CPSI is focused on conducting locally relevant research.  In addition to securing funding for local Rochester area government and not-for-profit organization projects, CPSI continuously conducts local research for use by its partner agencies and organizations and the public as well.  Some of this research is funded through Project Impact from DCJS through the Rochester Police Department.  These funds are primarily used to support student researchers who gain valuable research and practical experience. With their work at the crime analysis center and RPD it seems likely that some of the students will go on to make further contributions through employment with the city as other CPSI researchers have. The projects completed under this effort are reflected in the “Working Papers” sections on our website.

All of the research done through CPSI is intended to provide useful and practical knowledge to assist in addressing public safety concerns in the community.  The research is made available through the working papers and is widely presented and discussed in the community by the researchers and others from CPSI.  The research partnership between CPSI and the Rochester Police Department and other local agencies and organizations has been recognized as a model research partnership by the National Institute of Justice. 

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.

Projects

Blue Courage is a national in-serve police training program designed to improve the mental and emotional health of police officers. One key to the training is convincing officers to use breathing techniques and meditation to regulate their mental and emotional state. Overall, a ‘guardianship mentality’ is taught via seven principles in the Blue Courage program: Police Culture, Nobility, Respect, Practical Wisdom, Positive Psychology, Health and Wellness, and Resilience. CPSI is analyzing what makes the program likeliest to be successful. The researcher’s data allows him to capture fidelity to the model, the “star teacher” effect of master trainers, and to investigate the specific processes that bear to each principle. That is, the data investigation will involve not only whether the model is being replicated correctly or how, but if its components have design strengths across sites.

This project is assessing the views of prosecutors, public defenders, and other criminal justice actors as it relates to BWC video footage. The assessment will be done in collaboration with JSS and the deputy district attorney in San Diego County. The project timeframe is June 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. Three sites have been selected for this engagement: prosecutor and public defender offices in Monroe County, New York, Austin, Texas and Escondido, California. The project includes an online survey of the staff of these offices, in-person interviews with prosecutors and public defenders, and the collection of data pertinent to arrests and prosecutions that involve video footage.

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.

With a goal to provide the Monroe County GIVE partnership with information on community attitudes and concrete recommendations for strengthening police/community relations, the Procedural Justice research grant will conduct focus groups in the community, led by an independent contractor with support from two student researchers and under the direction of the principle Investigator to conduct at least one focus group per month but ideally two per month, collect data on community views of police, present results, and provide the Gun Involved Violence Elimination partnership with recommendations for strengthening police/community relations and report findings to DCJS and the community.

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) is studying individuals with warrants through a criminological and social welfare lenses. Bench warrants are issued for failure to appear or pay fines, but it is unknown if this is due to inability to pay or other issues. Traffic violations, which carry no jail time, are the most common original offense for bench warrants. The most frequent result of a bench warrant is an arrest and jail stay, which is disruptive to lives. Bench warrants may actually increase harm, as they place multiple civic limitations on individuals, such as driver’s license suspension and social service eligibility. The purpose of this study is to provide a description and explanation of living with low-level fugitive status, defined as having a bench warrant. Individuals with bench warrants, trusted friends of these individuals, and criminal justice experts will be interviewed on a wide-range of topics. Interviews will be synthesized into a report that describes the process of becoming a low-level fugitive, adjustment strategies, and managing this status. Actionable policy and practice steps to resolve problems associated with active warrants will be developed. The findings will help to improve criminal justice system processing, legal policy, and practice, while improving and stabilizing conditions for individuals with warrants.

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.

Homeless Gap Analysis is a tool to enable the Rochester community to identify and inventory existing resources, define what resources we ideally need to effectively respond to homelessness, and describe the gap between the actual and potential response to homelessness here. The community can then prioritize those gaps to create a robust homelessness response system in Rochester, NY. By surveying service providers and homeless individuals, we learned the unmet needs in Monroe County include: a lack of emergency shelter beds, a lack of shared responsibility to provide hospitality beds (overnight stays that are not cost-reimbursed by the County); difficulty placing homeless individuals who have been previously imprisoned; difficulty placing homeless individuals who are sex offenders; the common presence of numerous prerequisites that must be met prior to obtaining permanent housing; inadequate staffing in shelters; differing definitions of homelessness between HUD and local service providers, and other gaps.

Ibero American Action League was awarded the BYRNE grant in November 2017, under CBCR, or innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction for Project CLEAN. The RIT Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI) is the sub-awardee Research Partner. Project CLEAN (Community, Law Enforcement, and Assistance Network) target area (TA) is in the El Camino Revitalization Area, in Rochester NY, in many ways a wonderful neighborhood with incredible assets, most notably its people, but which is primarily known today for its socioeconomic and crime problems. This project will develop a partnership for the planning and implementation of coordinated strategies to “CLEAN” the North Clinton Avenue neighborhood of its heroin challenge, improve safety and reduce crime, increase connections to services for those who are heroin addicted, and support City and neighborhood revitalization efforts that will allow residents and businesses to reclaim this vital business district.

R.I.T. Center for Public Safety Initiatives, the Project CLEAN Research Partner, will create a baseline assessment of challenge in area; lead Cross-Sector partners in identification, review, and selection of appropriate evidence-based solutions; develop strong outcomes measures; lead participatory research and observations; evaluate effectiveness of strategies; disseminate findings in an ongoing manner to ensure informed decision making and resource allocation. For this particular project, our work plan will assure that analysis plays a leading role in understanding the problem, developing strategies to address it, and evaluating the program impacts. CPSI is committed to the mission and success of Project CLEAN, and will work together to guide the planning and implementation to achieve its strategic objectives.

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.

The project involves review, research, and analysis of case files and other material on site at the Federal building in Rochester NY, and is intended to enhance understanding of certain offenders managed by the U.S. Western Federal Probation (WDNY) to allow for informed policy and training decisions.

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.

Swift, Certain, and Fair is a probation program for violent gun offenders ages 16-24 to help reduce gun violence and recidivism rates in the Monroe County. The evaluation includes interviewing, observing court procedures and participant screenings, and collecting data from stakeholders to determine program success. The researchers will work with the judge, the DA, Probation, et al., to formulate a research design for comparison groups within all initially screened SCF participants (247 individuals); create comparison groups and delineate elements of each group (e.g., SCF participants/straight probation sentence/prison sentence/12 month interim + 5 years’ probation) (elements of each group may be risk to community; ADA recommendation; etc.); and to write a Final Report Measurable Outcomes of SCF participants and the SCF Final Guide/Manual to aid in replication of the program.

Project Staff

  • Janelle Duda Banwar, MSW, PH.D. - Candidate Research Associate
  • Kayla Macano, M.S. - Research Associate
  • Na Liu, M.S. - Research Associate
  • Jeff Clark - State Operations Director For Street Outreach Anti-Violence Initiatives
  • Nathaniel Le Mahieu, B.S. - Research Assistant
  • Christopher Sweadner, B.S. - Research Assistant
  • Jermaine Sprague, B.S. - G.I.V.E. Focused Deterrence Coordinator
  • Deidre Hammonod- G.I.V.E. Analyst
  • Damon Bacote - SNUG Training Director
  • Gregory Drake, M.S. - Research Associate
  • John Huntzinger - Alternative To Incarceration Program Assessor
  • Ed Minardo - Alternative To Incarceration Program Assessor

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

Researchers

Student Researchers

  • Jessica Burt
  • Camila Camps
  • Abigail Hallowell
  • Libnah Rodriguez
  • Jennifer Schmitz
  • Shakierah Smith
  • Michael Surtel
  • Luisa Swan
  • Michael Barnard
  • Aaron Baxter
  • Frank Battaglini
  • Karyn Bower
  • Douglas Bullock
  • Christina Burnett
  • Saulia Cruz
  • Nathaly Cabrera Delgado
  • Michelle Comeau
  • Danielle DiGaspari
  • Audrey Di Poala
  • Erin Doyle
  • Tristen Durand
  • Keith Ericksen
  • Liam Fanning
  • Juan Fernandez Hawa
  • Pamela Flemming
  • Jordan Gates
  • Arindam Ghosh
  • Jose Gratereaux De Los Santos
  • Shayna Gray
  • Casey Hammond
  • Zahal Kohistani
  • Dorothy King
  • Ryan Lamon
  • Michael Langenbacher
  • Nate LeMahieu
  • Isaac Lenhard
  • Kyle Letteney
  • Na Liu
  • George Mackenzie
  • Alysia Mason
  • Akshay Paliwal
  • Jaleesa Panico
  • Lakshmi Raman
  • Christopher Roberts
  • Tayler Ruggero
  • Sujeong Seo
  • Chaquan Smith
  • Avanelle St. Bernard
  • Carly Stephens
  • Chris Sweadner
  • Danielle Turenne
  • Pedro Vazquez
  • Ye (Calla) Wang

Our Work

This is something different- not the usual research paper from us (as good as they may be). This is a construction project. We are trying to build a plan- or at least lay the foundation, and we would like your help.

Send us your ideas on specific programs or interventions that you think can help reduce levels of violence in this community. They may be things that are already being done or they may be new and even untried ideas. They may be ideas for programs run by not-for-profits, or they may be ideas for law enforcement or the courts, or even private businesses. Tell us what you think makes sense. Email your ideas to us at cpsi@rit.edu

We are looking for ideas from everyone who wants to contribute. So, announce it in your staff meeting, or your classroom or just among your friends. Encourage everyone you come across to think about this issue and to send in their ideas. We want to reach out as widely as possible. The issue is too important not to.

What we will do: Our research staff will carefully review all of the ideas to see if they have been tried elsewhere and if there have been evaluations of them or other research that may be relevant. We will produce a summary of each suggested program or idea, a notation as to whether it is being done in the community or elsewhere, and a rating that may range anywhere from effective to promising, not effective, negative effects and unclear or unknown. We will periodically send out the reviews, as we do with our research papers and we will continually update the results on our web page.

Our reports will not include the names of anyone who submits an idea. So if you want credit for, or ownership of an idea, don’t send it to us. And, for the record, we will not include ideas that we do not think are appropriate for review.

We think this can be a useful addition to a community conversation about the problem of violence. We are not, however, trying to reinvent the wheel. Good and useful work at the national level has been done. See www.crimesolutions.gov from the US Bureau of Justice Assistance for an excellent collection of information on programs that work. It will be a starting point for us. The science is important, and we will report out the best research available, but so is suitability. We will also consider how well programs may address our own local problems and match our local resources.

We think this will be an ongoing project. It may result in the essay that never ends. As new ideas come out or old ones get evaluated we will add them to our list. With that we will be building a local repository for information about effective violence reduction efforts.

We hope that you will participate and encourage others to send in their ideas. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. And…Email your ideas to us at cpsi@rit.edu

Sincerely,
John M. Klofas, Ph.D.
Janelle Duda, MSW
Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI)

 

Working Papers

Sponsors and Partners

  • Judicial Process Commission
  • Stop the Violence Coalition
  • West Side Youth Violence Prevention Task Force
  • GoodFellas
  • City Of Rochester
  • IBERO-American Action League
  • Camp Good Days and Special Times
  • Volunteers Of America
  • Rochester Youth Violence Partnership
  • M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
  • Compeer
  • Compass House
  • Hillside
  • Buffalo PD
  • DMV
  • Huther Doyle
  • Crestwood
  • MC Probation
  • CFC
  • Community Place
  • New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • Department of Justice: Project Safe Neighborhoods
  • Department of Justice: Rochester Safe and Sound
  • Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
  • United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York
  • Monroe County Office of Probation and Community Corrections
  • Rochester Police Department
  • Monroe Crime Analysis Center
  • Catholic Family Center
  • Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
  • Community Place of Greater Rochester
  • Boys & Girls Club of Rochester
  • Pathways to Peace
  • Camp Good Days & Special Times
  • Grace United Methodist
  • Partners in Restorative Initiatives
  • Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County
  • Avenue D Reading Club
  • Advocate Custom Works
  • Teen Empowerment

STEAM Prize

A Prize for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics applied to public safety

The Center for Public Safety Initiatives at RIT will award a prize of $5,000 to the Gold Medal Team of STEAM students and faculty selected for its contribution to addressing a public safety related problem of their choosing. Students must make up the majority of each competing team. A Silver Medal prize of $2,500 will also be awarded. A Bronze Medal team will receive an honorable mention.

Anyone can participate, but at least two members of the team must be RIT students. Winners will be announced at the Imagine RIT Festival.

Prizes will be judged by the following criteria:

  1. Innovation – Is your solution distinctive or fundamentally different from existing approaches?
  2. Social Implications – Does your project address a social problem or need?
  3. Impact on public safety - Does your solution demonstrate the potential to improve public safety (broadly defined)?
  4. Clarity – Does the proposal make sense?

CPSI will not claim any rights or responsibilities regarding possession or copyright of material developed for this contest.

The purpose of this contest is to encourage the development and application of STEAM related solutions to public safety problems. Faculty and students from all RIT schools and colleges are encouraged to participate. For this purpose “public safety” is defined broadly to include issues related to justice, crime, and criminal or civil processes. CPSI will exclude from review any projects it determines are inappropriate. If no projects are found by CPSI to be sufficiently meritorious no prize will be awarded for the year.

STEAM teams are encouraged to use their imagination. A broad range of projects is anticipated and encouraged. Below are some examples of possible projects:

  • New software for crime analysis or data visualization
  • Useful analytic methods for studying crime or justice problems
  • Developing useful cell phone apps for use in policing or other criminal justice agencies
  • Development of games or simulations of the operation of the criminal justice system
  • Developing methods of handling police body-worn camera video including data cataloguing, storage, and analysis
  • Developing STEAM-based approaches to address problems such as the opioid crisis

If you have questions, please email us at cpsiSTEAMprize@rit.edu

2018 WINNERS