Over the coming years, LJAF is committed to leveraging the power of data, research and innovation to improve community safety by reducing serious crime, increasing police effectiveness, and working to ensure that laws are enforced in a fair and equitable way. As our first initiative in this domain, we seek to work with partners to support a critical examination of the arrest power, and specifically an examination of the alternatives to arrest. Expanding the range of effective options will benefit police departments, individual officers, and the people and communities they serve.

LJAF will work towards building a toolkit of evidence-based policies that can guide the use of the power to arrest toward better outcomes, including alternatives for defined subpopulations, such as people with mental illness, substance use disorder, or who are homeless. We will also explore practices such as stationhouse release and citations that reduce the use of custodial practices. Across this domain, we will focus on the need to understand how officers exercise their broad discretion to arrest, how this discretion is impacted by police department policy, and whether police exercise their discretion fairly and consistently. In these areas, we will focus on a broad range of outcomes, including the impact of these reforms on public safety, health, cost-effectiveness, officer safety, police legitimacy, and a range of socio-economic indicators including race, ethnicity, and poverty.

LJAF will build upon existing efforts, such as the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) project, which aims to improve society’s response to individuals who cycle between the justice system and our emergency health and social service systems. By integrating and analyzing data across sectors, the DDJ project will develop new tools and responses to more effectively target, reduce, and redirect frequent utilizers away from costly and ineffective systems and into coordinated, community based care.

We will also continue to expand opportunities to leverage data to inform policy and drive reform. The Misdemeanor Justice Project (MJP) has documented the significant declines in the rate of pedestrian stops and arrests for low level offenses in New York City, supporting a series of local reforms in that city. Building on this success, the Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice will provide the nation’s first empirical examination of arrest trends in the seven participating cities.

As we build this agenda, our work will be guided by other LJAF investments, including our portfolio of randomized-controlled trials on the effectiveness of body-worn cameras, the recent National Academy of Sciences consensus panel on proactive policing, and the police-academic partnership between the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the University of Cincinnati Research Institute. We hope to explore related opportunities that will build on this platform, including innovative responses to violence using data analytics, new law enforcement strategies to meet the challenges of the opioid epidemic, and the relationship between the arrest decision and the pretrial phase of the criminal justice system.

Gun Violence Research
Alternatives to Arrest Research