Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dr. Wells Appointed Research Director at LEMIT

Dr. William (Bill) Wells Dr. Bill Wells

The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) recently appointed Dr. Bill Wells of Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice as its new Research Director.

"One of the things we really want to do is to help translate research into practice," said Wells, an associate professor at the College of Criminal Justice. "It makes academic research more accessible. We want to link up research opportunities at LEMIT with scholars in criminal justice."

LEMIT is a professional training agency for Texas law enforcement that was created by the state legislature in 1989. Its Research and Development Unit will provide police administration with cutting-edge knowledge to improve practices and agency functions. It will help identify new challenges facing officers and deputies in the field and provide timely and relevant research that could be used by law enforcement and scholars alike. It also will sponsor forums on emerging issues and use the information to enhance training opportunities available at LEMIT.

The unit will serve as a clearinghouse for research in the field, providing key word searches and a layman’s synopsis of studies and their applications to work in the field. The unit also can serve as a resource partner to aid in writing grant applications by local entities.

"It merges the research and practitioners together," said Dr. Rita Watkins, executive director of LEMIT. "It is getting information back to police chiefs, administrators and officers. It is giving them information in a way that they can use it."

The new unit will marry the resources of the College of Criminal Justice and LEMIT, providing information to law enforcement to improve services to the community and allow faculty members to have access to latest data to do effective research.

"We want to really target and embrace our partnership with the College of Criminal Justice through research," said Watkins.

One of the first new research projects being considered is to study officers killed in the line of duty in an effort to better prevent the future loss of life. Using a model provided by the National Violent Death Reporting System, an interest of Ph.D. student Milton Hill will track and monitor factors leading to the death, including time of day, day of the week and circumstances. The system would track any trends to develop training to prevent future incidents or to generate more research to provide new insight on the topic.

The unit also will launch an ongoing survey of police chiefs, which examines the attitudes, opinions and perspectives of law enforcement’s top leaders on various topics and the career paths that led to the top job. The surveys, undertaken by Drs. Bill King and Larry Hoover at the College of Criminal Justice, will provide valuable feedback to LEMIT for training opportunities and to scholars in understanding the roles and perspectives of police chiefs.

Not only will LEMIT offer research, reports, articles and presentations on criminal justice topics from scholars across the county, it also plans to provide white papers compiled by Texas police professionals as part of the Leadership Command College, a comprehensive program that provides executives with the knowledge and skills for successful leadership in a modern law enforcement agency.

Among the topics covered are community policing, critical incidents management, patrol, tactics, school safety, use of force, stress management and performance evaluations, to name a few.

The research unit also will monitor trends in law enforcement and include a conglomerate of up to-date information on significant and relevant issues on its Web site. It also may host summits on emerging issues, such as how police can use social media to provide and receive information from the public.

Wells, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has been an associate professor at the College of Criminal Justice since 2007. He previously taught at the Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency, and Corrections at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and served as Interim Director and Graduate Program Director.

Wells is working with the Houston and Dallas Police Departments on research projects and he helped develop strategic crime control initiatives for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Departments.

Dr. Wells professional interests are in the areas of policing and gun-related violence.