Kris Henning – Research Spotlight
Listen to Dr. Henning as he discusses his collaboration with local criminal justice agencies, as well as his strong focus on evidence-based practice.
0:07 The overall goal of my research and community service in the past 10 years has been to help criminal justice agencies enhance their internal capacity for evidence based practice.
0:20 A long standing project with the Portland Police Bureau provides a good example of the kind of work that I do. In 2005 the Bureau’s Domestic Violence Reduction Unit or DVRU lost several officers due to budget cutbacks. Despite these cutbacks they were still being referred the same number of cases each year, roughly 6,000. From which they can select and investigate only about 400 to 500 cases. The sergeant in the unit at that time was concerned about whether or not the most serious cases were being selected through the informal process that was in place at that time.
0:58 He was also concerned about the potential legal liabilities when cases were not investigated further. To help him and the unit address these issues we first developed a simple assessment scale which could be used to predict which offenders were at greatest risk for recidivism. We validated the scale using several independent samples to ensure that the measure was as accurate as possible.
1:23 After this we automated the risk scale using a relational database I created for the unit that remains in operation today.
1:33 Other recent collaborations with the Portland Police Bureau’s Crime Analysis Unit have focus on residential burglary and robbery. With the former I developed an automated linkage analysis system that could be used by investigators to identify unsolved burglaries that might be associated with a given offender. For the latter, I am leading a team of faculty and students investigating robbery throughout Portland. Among other things, we are analyzing changes in robbery over time and we are also looking to identify stable robbery hot spots in the city where interventions are going to be needed.
2:10 Another aspect of my recent scholarship that I really enjoy is the partnerships I have established with local criminal justice agencies and the applied projects that have resulted from these collaborations. Criminal justice professionals often complain that academic scholars are too far removed from actual practice and that much of our research has limited practical use in the field. I try to address this criticism by developing relationships and building trust with practitioners as a first step. From there, we work to identify applied problems or areas where more information is needed. These efforts then lead to research collaborations that hopefully offer more tangible benefits to the agencies that I work with.