Polis is engaged in a wide range of social science research projects aimed at supporting efforts by police, criminal justice, national security, and other organizations committed to improving public trust and safety. We work closely with some of the nation's top universities, research institutions, and corporations to develop and evaluate new methods and technologies in support of police reform.
Our team's strong combination of scientific and operational expertise gives us the unique capacity to seamlessly integrate research and practice.
Police Decision Making
Drawing on some of the landmark work of Prof. Anders Ericsson, Polis has developed and implemented evidence-based methods to assess and improve police decision-making. Centered on scenarios called "Tactical Decision Exercises" (TDEs), these methods provide a structured, efficient, and cost-effective way to improve core cognitive and perceptual skills essential for decision-making. TDEs are based on extensive findings by Ericsson and others that deliberate practice of relative cognitive and perceptual skills, when done with immediate, focused feedback, can produce significant improvements in the development of decision-making essential for mission-critical performance.
While police departments have been using training videos in various ways for decades, the presentation and discussion of videos is typically unstructured, subjective, and inconsistent. As a result, many video training exercises unhelpfully reinforce the inaccurate notion that officers'
decision-making processes involving the use of force and other critical situations is largely a matter of individual perception, and thus impossible to standardize or evaluate in systematic fashion. This misperception is captured in the time-worn adage popular among many police officers that
"if you weren't there, you can't say anything."
Polis is currently working with several of our academic partners on an National Institute of Justice funded study to assess cognitive performance-based training to improve police decision making.
To learn more about the study click here.
Automated Assessment of Officer Expertise
Polis is developing state of the art methods that use Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to identifies when officers are thinking more or less like typical expert or novice peers. Building on successful pilot efforts that we completed with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Polis is leading efforts to integrate science and training in ways that will enable the implementation of new standards of performance and accountability in assessing police officers' actions.