ASU researchers receive federal funding for new and existing police training programs

November 21, 2019

Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety received a new grant to evaluate a program that will train police in the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses, and secured ongoing funding for an existing program that educates officers in the use of body-worn cameras.

The new, four-year grant — awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the federal First Responders-Comprehensive Recovery Act — equips Tempe police officers with Narcan for emergency treatment of opioid overdoses and supports analysis to be carried out by the center. Image by Matt Popovich on Unsplash Download Full Image

Narcan is the first and only nasal form of naloxone that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such suspected overdoses.

A total of $400,000 from the $2 million grant will go to the center, based at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. ASU’s portion of the funding will enable the center to complete process and outcome evaluations of training for the Tempe officers and social service outreach provided by EMPACT, a Tempe-based suicide prevention center, said Michael White, center co-director.

“Tempe, like other cities, has struggled quite a bit with opioid overdoses,” said White, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Watts College. “The uniqueness of what we’re doing is what happens after the administration of Narcan.”

Once the patient’s life has been saved through a first responder administering Narcan, the focus shifts to treatment and counseling, White said. The grant will enable the patient to undergo up to 90 days of treatment that includes counseling provided by EMPACT.

ASU researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of the program, White said, answering questions about the services each patient receives, whether treatment resulted in fewer overdoses and whether patients are enjoying an improved quality of life once off opioids.

“The idea is to get the person to the point where they won’t OD again,” White said.

Body-worn camera grant renewed

Additionally, the center's federal contract to work with CNA, a Virginia-based nonprofit research corporation, has been renewed for three more years. 

ASU joined with CNA Corporation and Justice and Security Strategies in 2015 to facilitate the training and technical assistance for law enforcement agencies that receive funding from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase body-worn cameras. The original grant of $800,000 to ASU was supplemented to a total of $1.6 million over the four years of the contract, he said.

The ASU team, led by White and Charles Katz, provides a wide range of support to participating agencies, including peer-to-peer training, webinars, speaker series, policy and training templates and other services, as needed. White and Katz also have directed a number of research efforts for the program, resulting in several reports, publications and presentations.

This year, the grant was renewed for $750,000 over three years. It keeps ASU providing law-enforcement agencies with expert knowledge on the use of such cameras, said White, who added it is likely the latest grant amount will likewise be supplemented.

U.S. police agencies that receive federal funding for the cameras are approved for two years. So far, approximately 400 police agencies have participated in the program, with about 90 more added each year, White said.

ASU is the only university working with police agencies receiving federal funding for the cameras, he said, providing the necessary training, assistance with forming administrative policy and help choosing a camera vendor.

Cameras require a large administrative investment not only in the devices themselves but in additional support staff to examine, store and catalog video footage, White said. The cameras have been effective for many law-enforcement agencies in improving their relationships with communities and increasing their accountability with the public, he said.

ASU Hugh Downs School awarded $10,000 to study loneliness and isolation

November 21, 2019

Faculty and graduate students from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication were awarded $10,000 from the Tempe Community Council (TCC), an agency of United Way and a partner of the city of Tempe, for its Storyscope Project, a storytelling format that fosters inclusiveness and cultivates connections and compassion. 

The Tempe community was invited by the TCC to submit their innovative solutions to help alleviate isolation and loneliness by strengthening connections between people in Tempe as part of its first-ever Connector Award. Award amounts ranged from $500 to $50,000.  A mural at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa inspired by a Storyscope Project. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute Download Full Image

Jennifer Linde, a Hugh Downs School principal lecturer and artistic director of The Empty Space, submitted the Storyscope Project for consideration and was one of five projects awarded funding. Storyscope will partner with Unity of Tempe to complete the project. 

“The Storyscope Project allows everyone involved to express their unique stories, make connections, feel a sense of belonging and participate in inclusive communities,” Linde said.

Linde’s team included Hugh Downs School doctoral students Lauren Mark, Rob Razzante, Tyler Rife and school alumnus and civil communication research fellow, John Genette. The school partnered with Rev. Linda Park-Fuller, a former assistant professor of performance studies at the Hugh Downs School.    

Linde says the Storyscope Project will make a difference and reduce isolation in two ways. 

“First, the Storyscope Project creates connection through story sharing,” she said. “Humans are natural storytellers. Sharing and listening to other’s experiences is one way people develop connections with others.” 

“Second, by collecting empirical data, we can do research to pinpoint exactly where connections are being made. With this knowledge, we can more effectively advocate storytelling and sharing as inclusive communication and a means to reduce social isolation.”

Community members participated in the mural project at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute. 

Linde says quantitative and qualitative data will be gathered through post-Storyscope surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Data analysis will be conducted by members of the I-4C research collaborative at the Hugh Downs School.  The school is further supporting this initiative by providing an internal seed grant of $5,000.   

Phase one of the Storyscope Project, which includes training story circle facilitators, making community contacts and planning and scheduling Storyscope events, is already underway. 

Ideally, Linde would like the Storyscope project to be utilized by any organization seeking to generate connections and address the problem of social isolation and loneliness. 

Recently Linde and Genette were asked by the Mesa Arts Center to hold a Storyscope event to help gather stories from the community to create murals in Guerrero Park. The project was funded by the Urban Land Institute, whose stated mission is to “strengthen communities through supporting art and culture in neighborhoods.” 

“John and I offered the Storyscope process to the organizers so that community members could share their stories with the mural artists,” Linde said. “The intent was for the artists to listen to the stories and turn their words into art.” 

An artist creating a mural inspired by stories of community members at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute

In the end, 12 mural artists crafted a 270-foot long mural collaborating with about 250 community members of all ages to implement the project. 

“We are excited that the Storyscope project is a part of local communities like Mesa and Tempe and that people are finding ways to share their stories with others,” Linde said.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication