2008-2014 Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety

New Perspectives in Policing series


New Perspectives in Policing

Managing the Boundary between Private and Public Policing
by Malcolm K. Sparrow

In this report from the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety (2008-2014), funded by the OJP National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the author offers a unique opportunity for police executives to explore the critical issues that arise. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Professor of the Practice of Public Management Malcolm K. Sparrow explains how it is no longer possible for public police to ignore the extent and pervasiveness of private policing arrangements in Managing the Boundary between Public and Private Policing.

Being in some general sense "for" or "against" private security is not helpful, as such views are inadequately nuanced or sophisticated given the variety of issues at stake. The motivations of private parties will rarely, if ever, be fully aligned with public interests. As public police engage in partnerships and networked relationships involving private and not-for-profit organizations, they become less the deliverers of security and more the orchestrators of security provision. Public police need to understand clearly the motivations and capabilities of each contributor, develop an understanding of the whole system and what it provides, and do their utmost to make sure that overall provision of security squares with their public purpose.


  • The Report and the Press Release
  • Media inquiries should be directed to:  Doug Gavel (617) 495-1115

"Public safety and security now rests on myriad private contributions as well as on the work of public agencies. But it would be naïve to assume that public and private agendas are ever fully aligned. The modern police executive has to navigate the boundary between public and private policing in a way that gets the best out of partnership and collaboration, but which recognizes and judiciously handles the risks associated with commercial and private motivations." - Malcolm Sparrow

Additionally, Executive Committee Member and Former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis added, "Police chiefs now have to handle these issues almost every day. All of the scenarios Sparrow describes in this paper had their analogues in Boston. I think the decision framework he has laid out here provides a lot of clarity in a very complex arena." ....more

New Perspectives in PolicingPolicing and Wrongful Convictions
by Anthony W. Batts, Maddy deLone, and Darrel W. Stephens

As experienced professionals from policing and legal advocacy, the authors of this paper have come together to call for the field of policing to take the lead in reviewing cases, learning lessons, and changing practice to prevent the innocent from becoming swept into the criminal justice system and eventually convicted of crimes they did not commit. D.P.A., Police Commissioner, Baltimore, Maryland and former Chief of Police of Long Beach and Oakland, California Anthony W. Batts; Executive Director, Maddy deLone of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization committed to exonerating the wrongfully convicted through use of DNA testing and criminal justice system reform; and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and retired Chief, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Darrel W. Stephens examine the systematic causes of wrongful criminal convictions and potential solutions to benefit both law enforcement and communities in Policing and Wrongful Convictions.

Long-time police executive and one of the paper's authors, Stephens says, “Police have always been concerned about the guilty going free because of a legal technicality; we should be even more concerned with an innocent person being wrongfully convicted. This paper makes specific recommendations for the police to help prevent wrongful convictions.” The recommendations draw upon many best practices that have emerged in recent years. The Executive Director of the Innocence Project and author Maddy deLone attributes much learning to the lessons learned through DNA exonerations, added “We have learned a great deal about how to prevent wrongful convictions. Adopting these best practices protects the innocent and helps police better use their limited resources to focus on catching the real perpetrators. We thank the many in law enforcement who have already adopted these proven reforms and encourage them to talk to their colleagues in other jurisdictions about how they have benefited their work."... more


  • The Report and the Press Release 
  • Media inquiries should be directed to:  Molly Lanzarotta (617) 495-1115

New Perspectives in Policing

The Challenge of Policing in a Democratic Society:  A Personal Journey Toward Understanding
by Charles H. Ramsey

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey escorts the reader on a journey through the US National Holocaust Museum and Nazi Germany, the Jim Crow era in the US, and to more recent experiences in urban centers experiencing violence, crime, and drugs to offer examples of the challenging role of protecting not only life and property but equally important, guarding freedoms and liberty in The Challenge of Policing in a Democratic Society:  A Personal Journey Toward Understanding.

In this report Ramsey describes the expectations of and challenge for police officers "to protect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice" and the role of police leaders to ensure that their officers fully understand the nature and significance of this commitment. Ramsey says this "commits us (officers) to a pact with the communities we serve."....more


See links at left for downloads and media coverage

Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons from Boston
by Edward F. Davis III, Alejandro A. Alves, and David Alan Sklansky

The very timely and effective use of social media in the hours and days following the Boston Marathon bombings may serve as a model for other law enforcement agencies in the United States. A new report, Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons from Boston, spotlights the ways in which the Boston Police Department (BPD) successfully leveraged its social media platform throughout the investigation to keep the community informed and engaged. The report, published as part of the New Perspectives in Policing Series by the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), is co-authored by former BPD Commissioner Edward F. Davis III.


  • The Report and the Press Release 
  • Media inquiries should be directed to:  Doug Gavel (617) 495-1115

Media Coverage

  • Listen to HKS PolicyCast:  Ed Davis on Social Media’s Role after the Boston Marathon Bombings
  • More press relating to this and other HKS reports on the Boston Marathon and Aftermath, including articles, congressional testimony, and interviews.

"The Boston Police Department has long embraced both community policing and the use of social media," the report begins. "The department put its experience to good and highly visible use in April 2013 during the dramatic, rapidly developing investigation that followed the deadly explosion of two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon." Davis and co-authors Alejandro A. Alves and David Alan Sklansky identify several key moments following the explosions when the BPD turned to Twitter to communicate critical information. Within one hour of the bombings, they explain, the department had sent out a tweet confirming what had happened along Boylston Street.... more


New Perspectives in PolicingPolice Leadership Challenges in a Changing World
by Anthony W. Batts, Sean Michael Smoot and Ellen Scrivner

Retired Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, Director and Chief Legal Counsel of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois Sean Michael Smoot, and former NIJ Deputy Director Ellen Scrivner examine the impact of new technology and a new generation of police officers on existing police culture. There is a new generation of police recruits entering the profession, with habits and expertise in different areas that can clash with police organizations' traditional paramilitary culture and industrial type bureaucracy. The success of police organizational leaders may depend on how effectively they recognize and adapt to the dynamic characteristics of younger officers. 

Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World argues that these "contemporary employees" present not only leadership challenges, but significant opportunities, as they bring demographically unique attributes to law enforcement that may help it align better with community and citizen expectations. The contemporary employee demonstrates a familiarity with technology and social media; new attitudes towards their role in law enforcement and the community, greater acceptance of diversity; and new expectations regarding autonomy, participation in decision making and flexibility of working conditions. These skill sets, attitudes and expectations are among the competencies needed for 21st century law enforcement....more


New Perspectives in Policing 2012

Exploring the Role of the Police in Prisoner Reentry 
by Jeremy Travis, Ronald Davis and Sarah Lawrence

In this paper John Jay College of Criminal Justice President Jeremy Travis, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis, and and University of California, Berkeley School of Law Director of Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy Sarah Lawrence examine the role that police officers have in prisoner reentry in an age with historically high amounts of parolees reentering their communities every day. Traditionally, the police have played little part in facilitating the reentry of prisoners into the community, both because the police have seen their role as limited to the surveillance of probationers and parolees for the violation of the terms of their release or the commission of new crimes and because of a historical lack of trust between organizations that work with returning offenders and law enforcement agencies.

In Exploring the Role of the Police in Prisoner Reentry, the authors argue that police, particularly urban police departments, have a major role to play in prisoner reentry, in part because of high recidivism rates among returning offenders and because of their concentration in some of the poorest, highest crime neighborhoods. Greater involvement of the police in prisoner reentry can promote public safety through more focused problem-oriented policing efforts and increase police legitimacy, particularly in minority communities, through enhanced community policing efforts...more

Findings and conclusions in these publications are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice