On creating ethical, productive, and durable action research partnerships with police officers and their departments: A case study of the National Justice Database

Erin M. Kerrison | Social Welfare | Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 2019

Translational policing science must begin with explicitly communicated research aims and a shared vision for promoting safety. For researchers to approach police departments without first considering the concerns held by officers and their departments at large, is unethical, unproductive, and undermines efforts to secure longstanding mutually useful researcher-practitioner partnerships. In presenting a case study analysis of the multi-method National Justice Database’s recruitment practices, this article highlights some of the challenges that emerge when articulating study aims that hold relevance for public safety; defining theoretically- and solution-oriented research questions; administrative police data collection, analysis, and dissemination; and bolstering human research subject protection protocols for sworn officers who may be justifiably reluctant to participate in social science research endeavors. Implications for ethical policing research practice, fostering collaborative researcher-practitioner partnerships, and leveraging the benefits of data science are also discussed.