"Improving Police Practice Through Research." International Annals of
Criminology, 2003, 41 (No. 1-2), 167-175.
In 2000, the National Research Council (the social science arm of the National Academy of
Sciences) convened a special committee of academic experts to review the status of
research on policing. Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of
Community Oriented Policing Services, the committee was to make recommendations
concerning research priorities in the field of policy and when the evidence was clear
recommendations for practitioners concerning police ‘best practices.'  The ‘raw material' with
which the committee worked was the body of published, peer-reviewed research that has
accumulated since the 1950s when modern police research was born. The findings of
studies employing more rigorous methodologies were given the most weight, and all had to
pass muster as ‘social science.'  That is, they had to be empirical, conducted in rigorous
fashion, and of a seemingly generalizable nature. In the main, the panel focused on
research on policing in North America, although it was open to specific findings that were
clearly relevant for the American scene. This article provides a personal interpretation of the
most important of the panel's recommendations for police practice. It describes the panel's
focus on what the report dubs the ‘dual mandate' of the police: to control crime while acting
in a consistently lawful manner. It then traces the recommendations of the panel that speak
most centrally to those concerns. The full report, publication website (www.nap.edu) and it is
available for purchase at the same web site.
Policing Abstracts