Building and Strengthening Bridges Between Academics and Practice

Theory to Practice

Dr. Dennis Longmire named Director of Practice Development to bridge the gap between research and the field.

Dr. Dennis Longmire was appointed Director of Practice Development to strengthen existing bridges between academics at the College and agencies in the field in Texas and around the world and develop new ones to help enhance the relationship between theory, research, and practice.

“One of the signatures of our program is that we are tightly connected to agencies in the field of criminal justice not only in Texas, but nationally and globally,” said Dr. Longmire. “We want to strengthen our natural networks with communities and use our natural networks of information so we can create bridges for everyone from an incoming freshman all the way up to the leadership of the National Institute of Justice.”

Historically, the College of Criminal Justice has had strong ties to practitioners in the field through the various institutes housed on campus, including the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), the Police Research Center (PRC), the Crime Victims’ Institute (CVI), the Impaired Driving Initiatives, the Institute for Forensic Research, Training and Innovation (IFRTI), and the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility (STAFS). These programs provide professional development, training, and research opportunities for those that work in law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, victim services, forensic science, and private security.

The centerpiece of the initiative will be a dynamic web site that keeps visitors abreast of programs, initiatives, research, and opportunities available to encourage partnerships in the field. Dr. Longmire also would like to revive the Interagency Workshop, an initiative started by Sam Houston State University in the 1970s, which assembled representatives from various disciplines for a five-day workshop to address common issues facing everyone working, researching, and teaching in the broad array of areas engaged in criminal justice related activities.

“The website will help create bridges across the agencies engaged in justice related activities and allow them to share ideas, issues, and solutions to problems with each other,” said Dr. Longmire. “After all, we are dealing with the same people, we are dealing with the same issues, and we are dealing with the same problems.”

Throughout its history, the College and the Criminal Justice Center have been at the forefront of addressing common challenges facing professionals. For example, LEMIT developed model policies for law enforcement agencies on racial profiling and eyewitness identification as well as practices in handling untested sexual assault kits. The CMIT holds national academies for prison and jail officials and offers annual statewide programs on gang, drugs, and women’s issues. The CVI provides research and policy recommendations to the Texas Legislature on such issues as sexual assault, intimate partner violence, human trafficking, stalking and crime victims’ rights. The PRC collaborates with law enforcement agencies on practical studies on issues like hot spot policing, crime patterns, and citizen surveys as will well as developed an information management system for police and probation agencies. Professionals and high school teachers get hands-on training on the latest techniques used in crime labs or crime scene investigations through STAFS and the IFTRI.

The new web site will provide snippets from these and other programs offered at the Criminal Justice Center, as well as opportunities and reports available from funding agencies, such as the National Institute of Justice, and newspaper articles on technological development in criminal justice. The site also will highlight cutting edge research conducted by graduate students and faculty. The web site will be designed to help build bridges between new and existing agencies and develop initiatives to address important issues in the field. In addition to strengthening connections faculty already have with agencies to address pressing questions, it will provide opportunities for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels to become immersed in evolving fields.

“My initial thoughts are that the dynamic site I’m thinking about is not going to be designed to develop new practices because there is already so much innovation going on in the broad spectrum of criminal justice agencies, ” said Dr. Longmire. “Instead, I want to help encourage communication and information sharing among everyone engaged in crime and justice related activities. This includes the patrol officer cruising the streets of our neighborhoods to the U.S. Supreme Court justices rendering judgments about the constitutionality of practices taken by justice related professionals.”

The College of Criminal Justice remains committed to being a center for lifelong learning based the four pillars upon which the program was founded: to teach undergraduate and graduate students, to do research in criminal justice, to provide technical assistance to the field, and to train professionals in the latest tools and best practices.

Member of The Texas State University System