The impact of crime in communities is often overlooked as a factor driving, or derailing, economic recovery. But “public safety at the local level affects economic, political and social prosperity,” said Dr. Brenda Bond, Assistant Professor of Public Management at the Sawyer Business School.

Bond recently participated in the 50th Annual Meeting and Regional Policy Forum of the Council of State Governments' Eastern Regional Conference in Portland, Maine. The organization brings together state legislators from Maine to Maryland as well as the eastern Canadian provinces to strategize on innovative policies that will help state and local governments tackle public policy challenges.

While the theme of the conference was “Repowering the Northeast: Innovative Jobs, Energy and the Economy," Bond said the conference was about all the issues that affect the community. “Education, energy and the environment, criminal justice, health care, and transportation are all issues policy makers need to be thinking about,” Bond said. “I was encouraged by the participants’ eagerness to learn.”

Bond’s panel discussed “Declining Crime: What's Driving this Trend and What's the Role of Policing Strategies in Sustaining It?” and she served as the research expert, along with two police leaders from New England cities. “We started the conversation by looking at data on the national level, and there are national policies that have an impact at the state level, but crime really varies depending on where you are,” she said.

Bond, who is working on a state grant to help Boston, Lowell, and Springfield address criminal justice issues, said her own research revolves around crime policy at the local level. “In order to understand if police organizations are managing and using their resources in an effective way, we have to understand the crime data and trends. The policymakers and legislators hear from constituents and other policy makers and they know crime rates are changing. The question for them is, what does that mean?”

After her panel, Bond said she stayed for another conversation on “Hot topics in criminal justice,” including the reintegration of offenders into the community, sex offender registration, and solitary confinement. “These are issues that haven’t been solved, and it’s important that policymakers and practitioners invest in learning about what’s working in order to make decisions about effective services.”

Despite concerns about shrinking funding sources, Bond said the conference offered an opportunity for a helpful conversation between policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. “That kind of collaboration is effective,” she said.