The BRAVE Project: LSU Research and Training Instrumental for Success
BATON ROUGE – The LSU School of Social Work’s Office of Social Service Research and Development, or OSSRD, joined the East Baton Rouge Parish community and law enforcement-based initiative in May 2011 to address gun violence, homicide rate and drug marketing.
OSSRD has played a significant role in the new $1.5 million grant to support Baton Rouge’s Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination, or BRAVE initiative, including writing the grant. OSSRD is now in the process of implementing essential research and training components of the project.
The BRAVE model is based on the Group Violence Reduction Strategy designed by well-known criminologist David Kennedy of the John Jay School of Criminology, a strategy which has proven successful in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. LSU serves in the role of academic partner, a requirement of the grant.
“There is a huge law enforcement component to this,” said Dr. Cecile Guin, Director of OSSRD. “We’re trying to train law enforcement officers to use academic research to back up their actions.”
In the training, officers learn how to look at violent offenders and the offenses they commit in a target area. The officers can then use the technology LSU has, such as geographic information system mapping and social network analysis, to compile the information in predictive analytics software. They will then know who the offenders to target are in detail, including their criminal history, suspected criminal activity and their associates and significant others.
The police will look at the specifics of each crime, such as how and why it happened. The goal is to analyze every detail.
“We will literally develop instruments to collect the information that is discussed in the training,” said Guin. “We’ll automate it and put it into a report on a monthly basis to give back to the project director, Baton Rouge Police Department veteran officer Herbert ‘Tweety’ Anny.”
Anny will then be able to communicate a criminal profile in a specific area so that officers can see who is committing the crime, and how and why they are doing it.
Collaboration across different LSU departments allows for more in-depth research results.
Professor Edward Shihadeh of the Department of Sociology is receiving all police data on a monthly basis to show if crime is progressing, changing or moving. Shihadeh will look at where crime is taking place on an almost block level. Director of the Chinese Culture and Commerce Program Fahui Wang of the Department of Geography & Anthropology will take that information and put it on a map for the police.
Associate Professor Tracey Rizutto, an organizational psychologist in the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, will conduct the social network analysis. She will create diagrams that show which groups are producing the most activity and which groups are the most connected to other groups. With all this information, police will know the exact areas of concentration in which to place their officers.
Assistant Professor Juan Barthelemy with the School of Social Work is heavily involved in the statistical analyses and community level work.
“The whole point is for the academic piece to support the law enforcement decision-making so that police action is based on research,” said Guin. The police will become, in turn, more effective in how they fight crime.
The academic portion of the grant is only a piece of the whole picture.
“It really is going to take the support of academics, businesses and neighborhoods to deal with the crime problem,” said Guin. “One group can’t do it alone. This is all about getting the community supported enough so they can say ‘we don’t want your criminal ways in our community’.”
The School of Social Work is one of six schools realigned to form the new LSU College of Human Sciences & Education, joining the School of Education, the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science and the University Laboratory School.
For more information about the School of Social Work, visit www.socialwork.lsu.edu.
For more information about the College of Human Sciences & Education, visit www.chse.lsu.edu.