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Qualitative Evaluation of the Impact of Decriminalization on Police

PIs: Dr. Alissa Greer & Dr. Amanda Butler (Simon Fraser University)

Working Group: Dr. Alissa Greer, Dr. Amanda Butler, Sarah Ferencz (Simon Fraser University)

To examine the impacts of decriminalization on the police, we will conduct qualitative interviews and engage with police service representatives. There will be a total of four qualitative assessments, spread out over five years. This project will be conducted in close collaboration with CRISM-affiliated academics/researchers and collaborators based out of Simon Fraser University in BC. The main indicators we plan to examine include:

  • Police training and education on decriminalization (e.g., police awareness and understanding of a harm reduction approach in interactions with PWUD, promotion of unbiased policing, anti-stigma)
  • Application of unbiased policing, a harm reduction and anti-stigma approach in interactions with PWUD, including diverting PWUD away from the criminal justice system
  • Police knowledge of available health services for PWUD
  • Police connections to available health services for PWUD
  • Police resources spent on enforcement or prosecution of personal possession
  • Interactions between police and PWUD (including in relation to discretion and amounts typically seized or discarded)
  • Perceptions towards PWUD, decriminalization, and its impacts (e.g., whether decriminalization has changed the way that police view and interact with PWUD)
  • Changes to operationalization (e.g., staffing, resources, years on the job, resignations, retirements, transfers, workforce redesign, ability to prioritize serious crimes, etc.)

Preceding each interview, we will also administer a brief socio-demographic survey to each participant to capture relevant data (e.g., age, race, gender, sexual orientation, rank, years on the job, geographic location including rurality, and a question regarding whether they’ve been involved in prior research related to decriminalization, etc.) to provide contextual information regarding the police sample