Since January, Jeff Snipes, assistant professor of criminal justice,
has been surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque beaches in the
Caribbean -- but he's not on vacation.
He is coordinating a high-priority, $1-million police department-reform
effort in Trinidad and Tobago, two islands with a combined population
of 1.2 million, located just northeast of Venezuela. A single national
police force enforces law on both islands.
"The police service has always been challenged, this being a developing
country," Snipes says. An increasing number of firearms is coming
into the country through unguarded ports, and crack cocaine sales have
become more prevalent. The number of homicides has more than doubled
in the past five years.
Last year, these and other problems prompted the Ministry of National
Security in Trinidad and Tobago to ask crime experts to submit reformation
Snipes's plan, submitted with Stephen Mastrofski of George Mason University,
calls for direct contact with local police. It won over several competing
proposals, including one submitted by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The SFSU professor is the only full-time, on-site coordinator in Trinidad
and Tobago, but Mastrofski flys to the islands frequently to collaborate
with Snipes. Together they are creating a merit-based promotions system
for police officers, investigating police corruption, improving the
department's ability to collect and analyze crime data, and revising
officer training curricula for police recruits and supervisors.
Snipes is teaching crime control seminars to police managers, developing
a plan to reduce homicides and researching patterns in traffic fatalities.
The success of his efforts will be measured by monitoring homicide rates
during the next several years, accuracy of crime records and crime analysis
reports, and overall performance of supervisors and managers.
-- Gary Moskowitz