On July 15th, the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (NCACP) invited its members to apply to serve as pilot sites for a new project supporting evidence-based policing practices. Executed by the UNC School of Government’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (CJIL) and the NCACP, The Citation Project seeks to improve policing practices through implementation and rigorous evaluation of a model citation in lieu of arrest policy. The project has three components: (1) developing a model citation in lieu of arrest policy; (2) selecting North Carolina police departments to serve as pilot sites and supporting their implementation of the model policy; and (3) conducting an empirical evaluation to assess impact on core criminal justice metrics.
Citation in Lieu of Arrest Promises Benefits to Law Enforcement & Communities
Charged with identifying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that law enforcement agencies develop and adopt policies and strategies reinforcing the importance of community engagement in managing public safety. These include “least harm” resolutions such as use of citation in lieu of arrest. Increased use of citations offers other potential benefits, including increased law enforcement efficiency. Additionally, increased use of citations may help reduce unnecessary pretrial detentions of low-risk defendants and associated costs, unfairness, and negative public safety outcomes. An arrest triggers an initial appearance and imposition of conditions of pretrial release. Because secured bonds are the most common condition imposed in North Carolina, the decision to make an arrest versus issue a citation often results in imposition of a secured bond and associated wealth-based detentions.
A Collaborative Project
A seven-member team is executing the project. Police chiefs hold five seats, ensuring a law enforcement informed effort. Law enforcement team members include:
- Chief Dan House, NC State University Police Department and Immediate Past President of the NCACP;
- Chief Blair Myhand, Clayton Police Department;
- Chief Paul Burdette, Beaufort Police Department;
- Chief Damon Williams, NC Central University Police Department; and
- Chief Eddie Buffaloe, Elizabeth City Police Department.
The team also includes experts in criminal justice policy and research. CJIL Director Professor Jessica Smith, an expert on North Carolina criminal law, brings decades of experience working with judicial system and law enforcement leaders. Sarah Desmarais, Professor in the Applied Social and Community Psychology Program and Director of the Center for Family and Community Engagement at North Carolina State University. Desmarais brings expertise in empirical evaluation and implementation of evidence-based criminal justice practices.
Police departments are invited to apply now to serve as a pilot site. The application period will remain open until August 5th, and we will be holding an information session for interested departments on July 24th. The team will select pilot sites by the end of August, with decisions based on factors such as commitment to implementation, adequacy of local resources, community demographics and caseloads. In September and October, we will work with pilot sites on implementation, including providing detailed training materials and a train the trainer event. A rigorous empirical evaluation will assess the impact of the model policy. That evaluation will examine, among other things, change in use of citations; impact on failures to appear and on new arrests rates; change in jail admissions; and officer time savings. We will provide regular reporting to the NCACP and participating departments.
For more information about the project, contact CJIL Project Manager Ethan Rex at firstname.lastname@example.org.