scott-decker-012Later today Arizona State University professor Scott Decker (pictured) will deliver this annual lecture at the University of Regina. The talk is titled “Smart Policing and the Challenge of Translational Criminology”.

Smart policing sounds like an idea we can all get behind, I imagine. Although what translational criminology is I’m not exactly sure. If you read the synopsis on the university website, it talks about different strategies of policing that have been developed over the years like Team Policing and Problem Orientated Policing.

Smart policing is apparently the latest strategy. Because it’s evidence-based, it seems like a reasonably enlightened way of going about law enforcement. And while I wouldn’t presume to put words in Decker’s mouth, there is a situation playing out in cities across Canada these days where some municipal police forces have largely stepped back from enforcing antiquated laws related to the possession of small amounts of cannabis, be it for recreational use or health issues via compassion clubs and other types of dispensaries.

It’s the police’s position that from a cost vs harm perspective, there are simply much better ways to allocate scarce resources to preserve the peace in our communities than persecuting people who smoke (or otherwise consume) cannabis.

That ruffles the feathers of the hard-ass Harper Conservatives, though, who keep fulminating about the need for police to crackdown on these godforsaken pot criminals who are terrorizing our communities. Were the police to take their advice, though, it probably wouldn’t be regarded as an efficient use of resources, and hence not “smart” policing.

The same can be said for simple-minded “tough on crime” policies geared toward jailing people and ramping up police and prison infrastructure without giving any thought to underlying causes of crime such as mental illness, addiction, homelessness and poverty. That was a point Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, made the other day in the Leader-Post when he urged Canadians to vote for the party with the best social justice plan if they really wanted to put a dent in crime. 

But that’s just my take on the situation. If you want to hear what Scott Decker has to say, the lecture goes tonight at ED191 at the University of Regina at 5 p.m.