Clark Kimerer

  • Inducted June 2014
  • Nominated by Jim Bueermann and Karen Amendola, The Police Foundation

Biography:

Assistant Chief Kimerer is the Chief of Staff and a 31-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department.  Previous assignments include the SWAT Team, Chief Negotiator of the Hostage Negotiation Team, Commander of the West Precinct, Internal Affairs, the Vice and Narcotics Section, and Deputy Chief of Operations.  Chief Kimerer attended Northwestern University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from St. John’s College.  He has participated in various advanced course work and programs at the FBI Academy, the Graduate Institute for the Liberal Arts at St. John’s, and the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School, among others.  In 2006, Chief Kimerer was appointed as a syndicate leader and instructor for the first “Leadership in Counterterrorism (LinCT)” program conducted in Sydney, Australia. He serves on the Boards of John Jay University – Reaganhard Center for Emergency Management Studies;  The Downtown Emergency Service Center (Seattle);  and The National Alliance for Public Safety – GIS (DC).  Chief Kimerer will retire for service this year on June 30.

 

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Deputy Chief Kimerer is recognized for his high level of commitment and dedication to guiding his department through the planning and implementation of many research projects. He has regularly serves as the intermediary between researchers and his employees within the police department. For example, in 1991, after being appointed the commander of the West (Downtown) Precinct, he assembled a team to approach crime-ridden areas with hot spots deployment, and evaluated information daily. He established a process where suspect and crime patterns were examined frequently and continuously updated, to include information sets which they had never really considered before, including offender/probation status of suspects, their home base and trajectories of criminal activity, pending court appearances, associates, and times/locations of criminal activity. In identifying these data elements, his team worked with a statistician from the University of Washington and developed their own in-house expertise through providing educational opportunities for West Precinct supervisors and commanders. According to Kimerer, “[it] sounds a bit simple by today’s standards, but in about 18 months crime was cut by almost 30%.”

When Kimerer was assigned to command the Vice and Narcotics Section, he brought this same level of enthusiasm for evidence-based policing. For many years, the SPD model for narcotics enforcement went unchanged; target mid-level dealers through the use of confidential informants. The Section was isolated from the treatment community, and the arrest scenarios were predictable and seemingly ineffective in reducing drug problems. Kimerer brought a new approach to the table: analyze the efficacy of their enforcement methods, open the doors to the treatment and prevention communities (including the drug court). He also employed academic and practitioner experts and empowered them to lend their analytic skills to front-line narcotics enforcement programs in a major police department. Significant changes included the expansion of their analysis of offender data, protocols to debrief arrestees to ascertain patterns for prevention, and a solid partnership approach with the prevention and treatment community.

Chief Kimerer is especially recognized for his high level of commitment and dedication to guiding his department through the planning and implementation of a rigorous field trial on procedural justice. Jim Bueermann and Karen Amendola of the Police Foundation write in their recommendation letter that “not only did Chief Kimerer go the extra mile in ensuring personnel were properly trained, and that on-site monitoring could be carried out effectively, but he provided significant feedback to the research team, helping to contextualize the study. As a true champion of scientific research, he ensured the adherence to experimental protocols, routinely encouraged participation, and monitored the scheduling of supervisory meetings necessary for the study.” They remarked that he was instrumental in working with researchers and forming partnerships to assure research in the Seattle Police Department is conducted thoroughly and properly.

There have been many other research-practitioner efforts of which Kimerer has been directly involved. He directly engaged with research when examining an officer fatal shooting of a mentally ill offender. He was also instrumental in having Seattle serve as a research site for a recent study on use-of-force, funded by the National Institute of Justice, and assisted in an empirical study of pursuit driving in Seattle. He also engaged directly with research when examining an officer fatal shooting of a mentally ill offender. Chief Kimerer has also led the Neighborhood Policing Project (NPP) since 2004, which has been one of the Department’s most exhaustive longitudinal analysis to date.

 

Publications reflecting Deputy Chief Kimerer’s efforts:

  • Strote, J., Walsh, M., Angelidis, M., Basta, A., Hutson, H. (2010). Conducted electrical weapon use by law enforcement: an evaluation of safety and injury. Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 68(5), 1239-1246.
  • Peer Reviewer/Contributing Editor, Promoting Effective Homicide Investigations, Chapter 3, “Managing Homicide Units for Effectiveness”, Chapter 5 “Videotaped Interrogations” and Chapter 7, “Cold Case Investigations” c. COPS and PERF Publications, 2007.
  • Principal Author and Editor, Twelve Tenets to Prevent Crime and Terrorism, Major City Chiefs Association, 2009 (briefing document for the Obama Administration)
  • Neighborhood Policing in Seattle: Strategic Vision and 5-Year Plan, SPD 2007, Project Lead, Co-author, and editor.
  • Strote, J., Verzemnieks, E., Walsh, M., Hutson, H. (2010). Use of Force by Law Enforcement: An Evaluation of Safety and Injury. Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 69(5), 1288-1293.
  • Strote, J, Verzemnieks, E., Walsh, M. (2013). Emergency Department Documentation of Alleged Use of Force. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology, 34(4), 363-365.
  • Maher, P., Walsh, M., Burns, T., Strote J. (2013). Prehospital resuscitation of a man with excited delirium and cardiopulmonary arrest. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, 15(0), 1-4.
  • Contributing Author, Breaking the Barriers: The Mentally Ill, Criminal Justice and the Courts (Chapter 3, “The Police and Mentally Ill Offenders”) c. 1992, CAMIO monograph.

Statement from Deputy Chief Kimerer:

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Reflections on the Value of Evidence-Based Practices in Policing

This essay asserts no claims to represent scholarly research, as befits this important journal. It is intended, instead, to be a memoir occasioned by my recent induction into the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy Hall of Fame, a recognition I regard with the highest gratitude and humility, all the more as it comes as I retire from the Seattle Police Department after 31 years of service, the last 16 as an assistant chief. It was truly an honor to be nominated by two friends and colleagues whom I greatly admire: Karen Amendola and Jim Bueermann. My respect and admiration for these two dedicated, smart, and compassionate leaders finds an echo in my also thanking David Weisburd, who I am blessed to have as a mentor and a friend. It is customary for inductees to compose a teaching paper, a task I regard as an honor, for I see no nobler calling than that of striving always and everywhere to be a teacher.

When I look back on the state of policing in U.S. major cities (and with profound apologies to Charles Dickens), I would characterize the past five years as the best and worst of times. Economic turbulence has more or less defined the capacity of police agencies to undertake their most fundamental missions, let alone invest in research and innovation. The hue and cry over the complex issues of procedural justice and police legitimacy are jeopardized by dumbing down and politicizing otherwise profound subjects. And crime itself, which has heretofore been declining in most parts of the country, is itself transforming into a new array of threats—from terrorism to organized crime to exploiting cyber vulnerabilities—that are more sophisticated and potentially consequential than in any time in our history. Against these realities is a backdrop of media and politically motivated campaigns to discredit and disempower policing and its agents. This is the worst part of the Dickensian formula.

And now to the best: Police departments in this nation have never been more distinguished by scholarly, principled, and progressive executives and leaders, right down to the officer on the street. The sciences of forensics and criminology will solve crimes and identify leading-edge approaches and programs never before imagined. And the new ethos of the police professional, which more and more embraces sophisticated collaborations aimed at harm reduction, may be one of recent history’s most impressive transformations in the civic arena. It is this encouraging transformation on which this essay will focus.

On a personal level, the seeds of my nascent interest in applied research to understand and ultimately structure government institutions were likely planted during my undergraduate years at Northwestern University and, ultimately, St. John’s College, home of the so-called Great Books curricula. (After 31 years with the Seattle Police Department I can’t tell you the number of puzzled looks I have received from my colleagues as I tried to describe St. John’s.) The true teachers at St. John’s, history’s great thinkers, commended a life of ceaseless skepticism and relentless inquiry, and, most important, the value of the search for truth. This passion, of course, must find coexistence with the requirement for decisive action, particularly in the police profession. The ethos that guided my professional and personal life, then, was that we are put on this earth to question, learn, and enquire without cessation during the time we are given and at the same time remember the admonition of Rabbi Tarphon Pirke Abouth: “You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” —a weighty and humbling construct for life.

During my professional life, the seminal early and subsequent work of David Weisburd and colleagues that we popularly label “hot-spot” policing (although more properly describable as the “policing of place”) was transformative. It is a matter of fundamental truth that everything occurs in a place. The human endeavor, in all its complexity, is anchored, second by second, in a location. Geospatial, as well as temporal, coordinates are among the few characteristics that inhere in every important human event or activity. For police, this includes criminal acts, victimization, the trajectories that bring people into and out of incident locations, and the presence or absence of people to observe or deter a crime, or, alternatively, that preclude or obscure clear vision and options for action. Through analysis of place, we open worlds of possibility to understand methods of addressing and ameliorating human suffering. The policing of place using evidence-based approaches is, in my humble estimation, as important to the history of the policing profession as any of our precedent pragmatic and intellectual “revolutions,” from the Basic Car Plan to the Professional Model to the SARA model. And in the quest to understand and apply this fundamental truth, Weisburd, his research partners, and the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy have been inspiring leaders.

Looking ahead, I strongly believe that the linchpin of data-driven applied research is collaboration. I will describe two such public safety research collaborations—one with the human service provider community, one with the emergency medical system—that each produced substantive, life-saving projects and programs.

In 2008, I had a dual role as chair of the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) Board of Directors and as chief of staff of the department. At that time, a ground-breaking project simply called the “1811 Building,” after its address in the downtown core, opened its doors, after almost three years of rancor and court battles. This project was aimed at providing chronic public inebriates permanent supportive housing without conditions such as abstinence or treatment adherence. The blasted lives of late-stage alcoholics wandering the streets of Seattle provided a powerful impetus to find humane alternatives. But this was scarcely a mainstream approach, and both the DESC Board and the Seattle Police Department were continuously challenged to defend this project with evidentiary and other fact-based analysis. The most compelling evidence about the efficacy of this project occurred after its first year of operation, when the October 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published findings about the cost savings and decrease in use of public services, including criminal justice and law enforcement. Among their findings was a reduction in annual average costs of almost $63,000 of publicly funded programs per client, resulting in a net savings of more than $4,000,000 taxpayer dollars.

The second significant researcher-practitioner collaboration focused on a medical condition defined as metabolic acidosis, which police and emergency medical personnel refer to as the nightmarish encounter of subjects experiencing “excited delirium.” Subjects in this state, in addition to displaying bizarre behaviors and utterances, demonstrate unusual strength and combativeness. Their condition is one of extreme medical crisis and without accurate recognition and appropriate handling of such subjects may result in an in-custody death. The Seattle Police Department took on this issue by rigorously documenting encounters with potential excited delirium subjects and then working with fire department EMTs and the local level one emergency room to develop a protocol for handling such cases. As a consequence, cases identified by officers as potentially involving excited delirium were then researched by emergency medical personnel at the University of Washington Harborview Hospital, which resulted in nationally recognized protocols on how to intervene in such situations. A case report of one local incident was published in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2013. Patrick Joseph Mahar and colleagues’ article, “Pre-Hospital Resuscitation of a Man with Excited Delirium and Cardiopulmonary Arrest,” noted that the police officers’ rapid recognition of the condition likely resulted in the subject being resuscitated.

It is vital that we continue to search for ways to articulate and support policy-relevant research and build police models based on science and criminology rather than the gravitational pull of habit and tradition. We must redouble our efforts to encourage and support the next generation of police professionals—and, for that matter, academic researchers—toward the vision of seeing researcher-practitioners in crucial roles in all public safety institutions. And, in closing, the best way I know to advocate for the building of a comprehensive system of researcher-practitioner collaborations throughout the nation is to point out the obvious: Evidence-based programs can substantially impact crime, reduce victimization, and save lives. For my part, that is precisely why I put on the uniform of a Seattle police officer 31 years ago.

 

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