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Professor Jeff Snipes stands with one hand on his waist next to a police woman in uniform. Assitant Professor Jeff Snipes with a sentry officer in Trinidad and Tobago, where he's working to reduce crime. Photo courtesy Neal RollinsTrouble in Paradise
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 plans.

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


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Last modified Sept. 3, 2005, by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications