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Miami joins Ohio’s crime-fighting, problem-solving consortium

By Sara Guglielmo, For The Miami Student

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Miami University is not only an academic institution; it is a crime-fighting machine. Along with 13 other universities in Ohio, Miami recently became a part of the Ohio Consortium of Criminal Science (OCCS).

The OCCS is a group of researchers from colleges and state agencies working together to find solutions to the problems faced by local criminal justice agencies, according to its website.

"The OCCS can have a great impact on the Miami University community," Kristen Castle of the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services said. "Ultimately, this researcher-practitioner partnership can make a difference in the quality, quantity and equity of criminal justice services received by the public, making the community a safer place to live and work."

Professor Theresa Conover, an assistant professor in the Department of Justice and Community Studies at Miami University, agreed that being a part of the consortium will benefit the Miami University community.

"Researcher-agency partnerships and evidence-based policies have the potential to provide benefits to a multitude of stakeholders in the form of effective, efficient and equitable ways of 'doing' criminal justice," Conover said. "Policymakers, practitioners and the public are realizing that the current way we administer justice, in many cases, is in dire need of improvement."

The consortium tries to give professionals direct and easy access to experts who could help them with their cases, which would increase community safety.

"Too often, practitioners are challenged by limited resources and the difficulty of identifying and accessing experts in the field who can offer assistance in 'what works' in areas of criminal justice practice," Castle said.

According to its website, the Consortium works closely with more than a dozen other Ohio universities including University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University and Kent State University.

The OCCS hopes to include all Ohio universities and will benefit through Miami University's involvement with this consortium, Castle said.

"MU has experts in the field that can have a tremendous impact on the criminal justice community, not only in Southwest Ohio, but also statewide," Castle said.

Conover is currently the only criminal justice researcher from Miami University involved with the OCCS.

"My research includes evaluation of problem solving teams, citizen perceptions of safety and satisfaction with the police," Conover said. "I would expect that my membership in the OCCS would provide future opportunities to partner with other criminal justice agencies."

The OCCS addresses and solves many different criminal justice issues that benefit Ohio communities.

Though Miami's involvement in the OCCS is already beneficial for researchers and practitioners, Conover hopes it will soon provide opportunities for students as well.

"Ideally, potential benefits for students could include opportunities for undergraduate research allowing students to become involved in addressing complex, real-world problems in their prospective field," Conover said, "From the academic standpoint, experiences and examples from these collaborations can be parlayed into the classroom thereby enriching understanding of course content."