Research and Practice in Canadian Police and Security Services: The Road Less Traveled

By Pfeifer, Jeffrey E. | Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Research and Practice in Canadian Police and Security Services: The Road Less Traveled


Pfeifer, Jeffrey E., Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services


It is truly an honour for me to welcome you to the first issue of the Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services. As editor of the journal I find myself experiencing both a sense of pride as well as a sense of wariness with the birth of this new venture. My sense of pride emanates from the belief that this publication will serve as a valuable resource for both practitioners and researchers alike by filling a clear void in the field. Although there are other "police" and "security service" publications available, a review of these publications quickly demonstrates that they tend to fall into one of two categories. Specifically, they tend to be either professional magazines written by practitioners for practitioners or non-Canadian academic journals written by researchers for researchers.

Although there is certainly a valid place for these types of publications, it seems equally certain that there is also a clear need for a journal that can "bridge the gap" between practitioners and researchers in an effective fashion. It is the intent of this publication to accomplish this goal by bringing together the thoughts, theories, models, and data of researchers and practitioners in a forum that encourages high empirical rigour as well as clear application to practical issues related to Canadian police and security services.

It is just this intention, however, that also accounts for my sense of wariness. There is a clear tradition in both the academic and policing worlds to hinder, if not outright discourage, any attempt to bridge the gap between the "ivory tower" and the "real world" of policing. Historically, researchers have tended to reject the importance of ensuring that their work had some application. Psychologist Kurt Lewin, for example, met with significant resistance from the scientific community in the 1940's when he suggested that psychologists should engage in "action research, in which the acquisition of knowledge was seen as inseparable from the application of such knowledge to social change" (Sadava & McCreary, 1997, p.4). The world of policing has also experienced a historic tradition of viewing scientific research with suspicion. Edgar Wallace, for example, suggested early on that, "The detective side of police-work ... is ... a somewhat matter-of-fact occupation, in which hard work and a knowledge of the criminal are essential ... [In this pursuit] scientific knowledge or apparatus serve less than the more common place resources ... [such as the] close and personal observation of criminals" (Leslie-Melville, 1934, p.235). This historical "distrust" of academics and scientific research is also found in other security services such as the military and corrections. …

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