Dr. Bill Wells is in the unique position of linking law enforcement leaders to cutting-edge research in the field of policing at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT).
“This is an extremely unique position for an academic to hold,” said Dr. Wells, who recently was named Director of Research for LEMIT. “We get to interface and work very closely with police departments and with the academic discipline for research that will benefit the field. Agencies in Texas truly are interested in learning from research to enhance practice. This generates new information that can benefit the profession.”
One of the main roles of LEMIT is to respond to the needs of law enforcement in Texas. By partnering with faculty from the world-renown College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University, LEMIT is at the forefront of helping to answer important questions in the criminal justice field.
This year, LEMIT is embarking on a new study to assess efforts to train officers to respond to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence at the Houston Police Department. The project will involve the Crime Victims’ Institute at SHSU, which studies the impact of crime on victims, their friends, families, and society and makes policy recommendations to the Texas Legislature and victim advocacy groups. The new research comes on the heels of a National Institute of Justice-funded project to study and respond to unanalyzed sexual assault kits in Houston. Dr. Wells and SHSU served as the lead research partner on the federally-funded project.
LEMIT also is examining factors related to Texas Police Chief turnover through a study by Ph.D. student Yudu Li. Those results will be released shortly.
In addition to generating new research, Dr. Wells strives to keep Texas law enforcement leaders up-to-date on the latest developments on emerging issues in policing, which are presented in classes offered at LEMIT and provided as briefings online. Among the recent topics explored are the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing; Body-Worn Cameras; Evidence-Based Policing; 10 Hour Shifts and Sleep Deprivation; Eyewitness Identification Procedures; and Procedurally-Fair Policing. More information, including research reports, are available on LEMIT’s Web site at http://www.lemitonline.org/research/issues.html.
“We can help find and translate research for practitioners,” said Dr. Wells.
Another new issue that was presented during the 2016 Texas Major Cities Police Chief Leadership Series, which represents chiefs in cities with more than 100,000 population, is Blue Courage. Blue Courage is a philosophy that embodies the noblest of character and unquestionable devotion in all aspect of life, by acting with practical wisdom, exuding vitality, and heartening human connection. It is now offered to all chiefs and command staff at LEMIT.
Dr. Wells joined the faculty at Sam Houston State University in 2007 and recently was appointed as Chai of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the College of Criminal Justice. The Department was named the #1 program in the country for faculty publications and offers a broad array of expertise in criminal justice and victim studies.
“It is a natural complement,” said Dr. Wells. “Through my interactions with the networks of LEMIT, we can share and provide information to the field on what the Department is doing. We can communicate information on the latest research in the field.”