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Professor heads training for NOPD community policing initiative

December 16, 2011

Loyola University New Orleans associate professor of sociology and criminology George Capowich, Ph.D., is partnering with the New Orleans Police Department, the Business Council of New Orleans and the New Orleans Crime Coalition on a new community policing initiative designed to target and reduce violent crime in the city.

The Business Council has committed $50,000 to fund the initiative, which will train more than two dozen NOPD officers in community policing techniques, implement their new skills in five violent hot spots in the city, and evaluate the results. Capowich will employ two Loyola research assistants for the project, which begins this month and will continue through July 2012.

The initiative is designed to foster collaboration and trust between the NOPD and neighborhood residents and organizations, many who have experienced a strained relationship with law enforcement. This partnership will work in tandem with different divisions within the police department and other city agencies as a way to address crime and violence in neighborhoods.

“We’re going to be training 30 NOPD officers on the details of how to pick hot spots, design problem-solving strategies and implement them,” Capowich said. “We will work with the community to implement these problem-solving strategies, and then I will conduct a scientific impact evaluation so we will know how well it works.”

New Orleans currently tops the list as the most violent city in the nation. Community policing has been used here before, most recently in 1995. After the system was put in place, the designated hot spots saw a 73 percent drop in the murder rate. But budget constraints and lack of training caused the program to be disbanded, until now.

“We do not have an established core of instructors and experience in that entire philosophy, and most importantly we don't have the analytical tools to make the best decisions," said New Orleans Police Superintendant Ronal Serpas. "We don't have someone who can do the work that Dr. Capowich can."

Capowich, who served as a police officer for seven years, specializes in criminology and has provided similar evaluations regarding community policing for police departments in San Diego, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., Tulsa, Okla., Nashville, Tenn. and Tuscon, Ariz.

“Because of my experience, I understand the theory of it and I understand the practice of it at the street level. I blend the two as I work with police departments, who in turn work to reduce violent crime,” Capowich said.

For more information, contact Matt Lambert in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5448 or mlambert@loyno.edu.

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