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New Leadership for the IACP Research Advisory Committee

By Ross Arends, Supervisory Special Agent, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and IACP Fellow, Alexandria, Virginia

n June 13, IACP President Walter McNeil welcomed Laurie O. Robinson, former assistant attorney general of the U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, from 2009 to 2012, and now professor of criminology, law, and society at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as the IACP Research Advisory Committee (RAC) academic cochair. Professor Robinson joins her counterpart, RAC practitioner cochair Ed Davis, commissioner of the Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department, to lead the committee. Commissioner Davis is also relatively new to his role, having been appointed in 2011.

The mission of the RAC is to provide input, advice, and direction to the association, law enforcement practitioners, law enforcement researchers, Department of Justice leaders, and the entire criminal justice system on all aspects of law enforcement policy research and evaluation. The RAC has become an essential and influential committee in recent years, guiding the IACP’s decision making on urgent policing and justice policy research actions. The IACP is proud to have such significant leadership guiding this important committee. Said IACP President Walter McNeil, “With Professor Robinson and Commissioner Ed Davis at the helm, the RAC will not only continue to assist the work of IACP and the entire law enforcement field but also expand and improve the work we do to support law enforcement and the justice system.”

Commissioner Davis was a career police officer in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he became police superintendant. During a 28-year career in Lowell, Davis worked as a beat cop, a detective, and a vice and narcotics officer before being named chief in 1994. He engineered a drop in violent crime of more than 50 percent in Lowell by pushing officers to walk beats. He became commissioner of the Boston Police Department in 2007. In his first three years as commissioner, serious crimes decreased by 18 percent and shootings dropped by 40 percent. In Boston’s most violent neighborhoods, he has deployed “safe street teams” of officers whose responsibilities include building the community relationships that help prevent crime. Commissioner Davis’s father was also a Lowell police officer.

Professor Robinson was sworn in as assistant attorney general on November 9, 2009. She served as acting assistant attorney general and principal deputy assistant attorney general of Office of Justice Programs (OJP) from January 2009, before being nominated by President Obama in for the full position in September 2009. Upon returning to the Department of Justice, she oversaw the implementation of $2.7 billion in programs for which Congress assigned responsibility to OJP under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; launched a new agency-wide Evidence Integration Initiative to help ensure science-based approaches in OJP-funded programs; and held a series of listening sessions with state and local constituents to learn what OJP can do to better serve the field.

From 2004 until January 2009, Robinson served as director of the Master of Science in Criminology Program in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology. Between 2001 and January 2009, she also served as a distinguished senior scholar in the university’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology and as executive director of its Forum on Crime and Justice.1 She previously served as assistant attorney general at the OJP from 1993 to February 2000. During that time, she oversaw the largest increase in federal spending on criminal justice research in the nation’s history, and under her leadership the annual appropriations for OJP grew substantially— from $800 million in 1993 to more than $4 billion in 2000. At the same time, she also spearheaded initiatives in areas ranging from comprehensive community-based crime control to violence against women, law enforcement technology, drug abuse, and corrections.

Robinson was pleased to respond to the invitation to serve on the RAC. “Figuring out better ways to connect science to practice is one of my passions, so I was delighted when President McNeil invited me to cochair the RAC with Commissioner Ed Davis, whom I greatly admire,” she said. “At the same time, it’s a little daunting to step into [former chair] Charles Wellford’s shoes; he’s a giant in the field of criminology, and the IACP was lucky to have him as the academic cochair for so many years. But I’m looking forward to the challenges.”

Likewise, Commissioner Davis said, “I’m honored to take on the RAC cochair role along with Laurie. If the RAC can help guide IACP toward a focused, directed, and influential national research agenda, we’ll have done our jobs.”

Both practitioner and academic members of the RAC have enthusiastically offered their support and assistance to the new cochairs, acknowledging that Professor Robinson and Commissioner Davis are outstandingly qualified to bring valuable perspectives to the committee. Commissioner Davis is nationally recognized for his leadership in community policing his approach to evidence-based policing. Professor Robinson brings unparalleled experience and expertise in law enforcement and justice research and a dedication to science-based responses to criminal justice issues.

As they take on RAC duties, Professor Robinson and Commissioner Davis inherit a strong legacy from the first ever RAC cochairs—New Orleans Police Superintendant Ronal Serpas and Professor Charles Wellford, PhD, of the University of Maryland—appointed when the RAC was created in 2005. Superintendent Serpas stepped down by rule when he was elected IACP Fourth Vice President in October 2011. Dr. Wellford is stepping down to assume expanded duties as acting chair of the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Maryland.

IACP is indebted to Dr. Wellford and Superintendent Serpas for their many successful and significant initiatives including the relaunch of the IACP Journal of Police Science and Administration, development and support of the IACP homicide project with the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police. Under their guidance the IACP/Sprint Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award was established in 2008, the IACP Institutional Review Board was created and a monthly Research in Brief column was added to Police Chief magazine.

The RAC’s next meeting is in conjunction with the 119th Annual IACP Conference in San Diego, September 29–October 3, and will be the first time the new cochairs will chair a meeting as a team. Anyone interested in attending the RAC meeting and learning more about IACP research efforts while in San Diego should email IACP RAC Staff Liaison John Firman at ♦


1The Forum on Crime and Justice is a series of events, giving Capitol Hill and executive branch staff, selected representatives from the practitioner and research communities, and key interest group leaders an opportunity to hear the perspectives of state and local frontline criminal justice practitioners and researchers to help promote better-informed governmental decision making. Forum event summaries can be accessed through the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, Forum on Crime and Justice webpage at (accessed July 27, 2012).

Please cite as:

Ross Arends, "New Leadership for the IACP Research Advisory Committee" The Police Chief 79 (October 2012): 106.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXIX, no. 10, October 2012. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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