Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $59,167)
The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.
The School of Criminal Justice at the University of Mississippi was designated as Mississippis Statistical Analysis Center (MS-SAC) by Governor Musgrove on October 6, 2000. The mission of the MS-SAC is to provide Mississippi justice agencies and the public with sound statistical information and technical assistance in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The day-to-day operations of the SAC are managed by the SAC Director, Dr. Charles Scheer, with assistance from graduate students who serve as research analysts.
The Mississippi Statistical Analysis Center (MS-SAC) proposes to conduct a project under the following Core Capacity area: Increasing access to statistical data. Currently, knowledge of the landscape of policing services in the state of Mississippi is anecdotal, and police services in the state are largely unexamined in contemporary statistical research. Recent assessment of the states law enforcement capacities, operational character, budget challenges, and agency needs and concerns is restricted because of the lack of aggregate data on these topics, leaving the states law enforcement agencies without any comprehensive and empirical knowledge of state law enforcement capacity. This makes it extremely difficult for individual jurisdictions, regional partners, and state professional organizations to plan for future growth due to the lack of data and understanding of basic challenges.
The MS-SAC seeks to create a 2017 Survey and Census of Mississippi Law Enforcement Agencies. The most recent inventory and census of the state of Mississippis nearly 400 law enforcement agencies was conducted in 2003 and was encumbered by a response rate of less than 25%. This project focuses on expanding the past response rate as key to obtaining more current and comprehensive data. Additional follow-up to expand the response rate will capitalize on strong existing research-practitioner partnerships between MS-SAC and local law enforcement throughout the state. The proposed survey will update the census of the states law enforcement capacity using advanced survey distribution methods such as multimodal transmission. The survey will be distributed in three forms: as an internet-based survey, a mailed perforated return-addressed card which is easier for respondents to complete and return, and as an envelope-mailed survey.
With an additional emphasis on data analysis beyond reporting demographic and descriptive data, this project also incorporates the development of models reflecting the breadth of the states law enforcement capacities across several dimensions. These dimensions are expected to produce the states first in-depth report crafted to assist peer partnerships, a potential resource which in the largely rural state of Mississippi can solidify existing relationships that are regional in nature. Dissemination of findings will be widespread through a written summary report that will be posted online and by presentations made at statewide law enforcement conferences. Funds are also being requested for in-state travel to law enforcement meetings and staff travel to the 2018 NCJA Conference.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.