I recently attended the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) conference, which took place in Denver, Colorado from March 29–April 2, 2016. As a human factors researcher interesting in police decision making under stress, I find myself straddling two worlds: my academic background is in cognitive psychology and human factors, but much of my research focuses on aspects of policing and law enforcement. This was the first time I attended a criminal justice conference. I did so based on the recommendation of a researcher who I regard highly. It was definitely worth it!
The ACJS conference was quite large: There were up to 20 sessions going on at any one time. The program book was huge and daunting. How would I be able to find the “right” sessions to attend? Luckily, the ACJS created an app for the conference. Prior to attending I used the app to search the abstracts for keywords of interest, and created a daily schedule for myself. This really helped me navigate through the hustle and bustle of the conference.
Several months ago, after submitting my abstract for the conference, I was asked to chair my session—a request I happily accepted. The session, titled “Training Issues in Police Use of Force,” included papers relevant to my research, but from researchers I did not know. This turned out to an excellent networking opportunity: I met excellent researchers from the USA and Canada, and we discussed opportunities for collaboration.
Quite unexpectedly—but fortuitously—I met some fellow Wichitans at the conference. I had a great conversation with Matt Vogt, who is the Lead Faculty for Police Science at Wichita Area Technical College (WATC). Matt and I share a passion for training and education. We discussed ways to work together to conduct research that will improve training and learning for students pursuing careers in law enforcements, corrections, and private security. I also met two of Matt’s colleagues, Crystal Abasolo and Melissa Seiwert, who are high school teachers in Wichita. Crystal and Melissa coordinate programs for high school students to gain college credit by taking Police Science courses at WATC. I look forward to fruitful collaborations with Matt, Crystal, and Melissa.
While in Denver, I had the opportunity to visit Ti Training, a company that manufactures use-of-force firearms training simulators for law enforcement. Ti Training is considered the world leader in this simulator technology: The Wichita/Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Training Center already uses one of Ti Training’s simulators at its firearms training complex. After seeing the simulator’s capabilities, my mind was exploding with ideas for simulator-based research studies! It would be a dream come true to have one of Ti Training’s simulators on campus for research purposes.
It was my first time in Denver. The conference took place in the downtown area, so I was able to see some of the state capitol buildings and museums—that is, when it wasn’t snowing! All in all it was a really busy few days, but a great opportunity to expand my understanding of criminal justice science and to meet like-minded people.