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Photo by Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press

New York — Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced a partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world’s largest nonprofit membership organization of police executives, to conduct research on how police departments approach the use of citation in lieu of arrest. This research will provide the law enforcement community, other criminal justice stakeholders, and the public with baseline information about the ways in which citations are used across the country. It will also provide the basis for LJAF to develop innovative tools to help law enforcement make data-driven decisions about the use of citation. These tools will help law enforcement determine which individuals pose a risk of committing a new crime or failing to come back to court, and therefore should be arrested and booked rather than cited and released.

In 2012, law enforcement made more than 12 million arrests — of which less than 5 percent were for violent crimes. The vast majority of individuals were charged with low-level, non-violent offenses. Each of these arrests required police officers to devote significant time and resources to making an arrest, booking the defendant into jail, and filling out the requisite paperwork, all at a great expense to the local jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have sought to reduce the number of physical arrests of low-risk offenders by using citation in lieu of arrest. However, little information is available about which jurisdictions use citation and the impact of this approach on community safety and justice system efficiency.

Through this project, IACP and LJAF will gather information about the use of citation by law enforcement across the nation. IACP and LJAF will work with the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a national survey of law enforcement agencies, including those that use citation and those that do not, to assess their perspectives and identify data sets for further research on the use of citation. Preliminary findings from the first phase of the partnership will be released in mid-2015.

“In order to keep our communities safe, we must ensure that police officers have the tools to help them understand which defendants may be safely cited and released and which should be arrested and booked through the system,” said LJAF Vice President of Criminal Justice Anne Milgram. “Assisting jurisdictions to use citations in a risk-based manner could reduce the considerable time spent on arresting low-risk, non-violent individuals and free officers to spend time on activities that can better improve public safety. We are excited to partner with IACP to address the gap in citation research as a first step towards developing citation tools for law enforcement that will both improve public safety and increase law enforcement efficiency.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on this project,” said IACP’s President, Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary (City of Woodway, Texas). “This survey will support the development of data-driven tools to help law enforcement officers identify which individuals pose a low risk to officer and public safety and should be cited rather than arrested, and those high-risk individuals requiring incarceration.”

The project is an extension of LJAF’s efforts to develop objective, data-driven tools to improve decision-making across the front end of the criminal justice system, the period that runs from the time an individual is arrested until the disposition of the case. LJAF has already developed a comprehensive, universal risk assessment — the Public Safety Assessment-Court (PSA-Court). It can be used by judges and others to accurately, quickly, and efficiently assess the risk that a defendant, if released, will engage in violence, commit a new crime, or fail to come back to court. LJAF is developing a similar tool for prosecutors to help them make informed decisions about when to charge, divert, offer a plea, or recommend pretrial release or detention for a defendant.

About the International Association of Chiefs of Police

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is a dynamic organization that serves as the professional voice of law enforcement. Building on its past success, the IACP addresses cutting edge issues confronting law enforcement though advocacy, programs and research, as well as training and other professional services. IACP is a comprehensive professional organization that supports the law enforcement leaders of today and develops the leaders of tomorrow. www.theiacp.org.