Yesterday, The Dallas Morning News reported that the Dallas Police Department and the University of North Texas are teaming up to create a crime-fighting institute. According to the story, the goal of the institute is to “train the next generation of Police Department leaders” by helping them get college degrees, among other efforts. But what troubles Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast (the state’s best criminal justice blog) is that the institute will also “study the department's crime-fighting strategies to determine what works and what doesn't in an effort to place Dallas at the forefront of the national conversation on best policing practices.”
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Seems to Henson that may present a bit of a conflict of interest. As in, “Will the academics at the Institute be comfortable exploring the full implications of their research when working in such close association with field practitioners, and will that create conflicts that potentially harm academic freedom or a commitment to openness and public dissemination of research?” After all, Henson insists, “The role of a university is different from that of a consultant: It's supposed to be more independent, not necessarily institutionally intertwined with the subject its researching.” --Jesse Hyde