The Crimebusters: Firman and Needle [Temple University Review]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
THE ESCALATING INCIDENCE OF DISGRUNTLED ex-employees returning to the workplace with a shotgun in tow is one of a number of high-priority policy and research subjects for John Firman, MA CAS ’78, and Jerome Needle, BA CAS ’60.
And many of the nation’s top cops are tuned in to what their research will uncover at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), an independent professional organization headquartered in Alexandria, Va.
Most of America’s 13,000 police chiefs are members of the IACP, which provides training courses and seminars regionally on topics such as school violence, domestic abuse, weapons safety, and community policing; administers testing for recruits; provides executive search and placement for police chiefs; and, most importantly, disseminates current criminal justice policy and research information.
And a monthly publication called “Police Chief,” supplies technical information on subjects ranging from body armor to walking shoes.
Firman is coordinator for research and analysis at the IACP, and Needle is director of programs and research.
“We identify law enforcement issues,” says Firman. “We do research to understand those issues. And when that is accomplished, we get the word out.”
The way law enforcement professionals conduct business has begun to change in recent years, he adds. “Police were formerly trained to focus on responding to emergency calls. Now they are encouraged to get involved in the neighborhoods they patrol.”
Firman became interested in police work 25 years ago while walking a beat as a summer patrol officer in Stone Harbor, N.J., when he was an undergrad studying sociology. And he has worked in the criminal justice field as a researcher and planner ever since.
Needle has been involved in law enforcement administration since graduating from Temple as a political science major. He worked at the Chicago Police Department at the New York State Identification and Intelligence System and headed his own consulting business before the move to the IACP.
The rising number of homicides has also been a major area of concern, Firman and Needle recently held a Murder Summit, bringing together doctors, teachers, and police chiefs to provide a forum to work out community-based strategies for reducing violence. Their report was presented to the President the Attorney General and to Congress, Needle notes, “Our job is to determine how police can best serve society.”