Deborah Platz

  • Inducted June 2017
  • Nominated by Lorraine Mazerolle, The University of Queensland

 

Biography:

Deborah Platz currently serves as Assistant Commissioner, Crime Operations in the Australian Federal Police, where she is responsible for its Crime Response and the Victim Based Crime portfolios. Prior to joining the Australian Federal Police, Assistant Commissioner Platz served for 32 years in the Queensland Police Service (QPS), working her way up the ranks from constable in 1985 to Acting Assistant Commissioner. AC Platz holds a Masters degree in Applied Criminology and Police Executive Management from the University of Cambridge, a Masters degree in Business Administration and Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and a Graduate Certificate in Legal and Justice Studies from Queensland University of Technology. In 2016 AC Platz was named the International Female Officer of the Year by the International Association of Women and Police, and the Most Outstanding Female Leader of the Queensland Police Service.

 

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Professor Lorraine Mazerolle writes that AC Platz has been “a leader and champion of evidence-based policing in Australia,” reflected by her involvement in numerous evaluations and programs. AC Platz developed the Voice4Values Program within the Public Safety Business Agency and Queensland Police Service which focuses on instilling in police and public safety personnel increased empathy, appreciation for diversity, and a desire to take personal responsibility. Grounded in an educational approach to combat prejudice and discrimination, AC Platz partnered with the University of Queensland to evaluate the program using a randomized controlled trial within training. She is also currently evaluating the Mobile Police Community Office through a randomized controlled trial. The focus of this study is to test whether such mobile units that are built to facilitate community-police interactions can be deployed to crime hot spots to reduce crime and also increase police legitimacy. Yet another randomized controlled trial of which she is involved focuses on forensic services. This trial evaluated the impact of additional training and procedural justice in forensic crime scene investigations.

AC Platz developed a curriculum for evidence-based policing for introduction into three major training areas – recruit training, management programs for sergeants seeking promotion to senior sergeant, and a development program for senior sergeants seeking promotion to commissioned ranks in Queensland. She is a foundation member and current secretariat of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing (ANZSEBP). Professor Mazerolle notes that Platz “has now thrown an amazing amount of support towards evidence-based policing in Queensland, and most recently with the Australian Federal Police (our national police agency). She has financially and professionally supported a number of randomised controlled field experiments to determine best practice strategies for policing and she has promoted evidence-based policing through the development of [training in this area].”

For her efforts, she was awarded the prestigious Wakefield Scholarship from the University of Cambridge to pursue a Masters of Studies in Applied Criminology and Police Management in 2016. Professor Lawrence Sherman, Wolfson Professor in Criminology and Director of the Institute of Criminology at University of Cambridge writes that “Debbie Platz has pioneered the development of training for “evidence-based policing.” This new approach to police decision-making, modelled on recent developments in medicine and education, requires a substantial shift in organizational culture and practices. Ms. Platz has bravely confronted the challenges of initiating such a shift, successfully unfreezing the thinking of many leaders across the organization. Building on previous external initiatives in relation to the University of Queensland, she has been able to carry the strategy forward into deeper areas of scepticism to test expensive practices that currently lack good evidence. In her time at the Cambridge University Police Executive Programme, Ms. Platz has clearly demonstrated herself to be one of the best champions in Australia for the success of evidence-based decision-making in police work.”

 

Statement from Assistant Commissioner Platz:

Having worked in both operational and strategic areas I thought our decision making was based on research but in hindsight it was based on often “gut policing skills” and what seemed to work in the past. As I became involved in the Australia and New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing, followed by studies with both Cambridge University and the University of Queensland I now have a new appreciation as to what “evidence based” policing really means. Through a number of randomized controlled trials and other quasi experiments I am amazed as to how innovation and creation can be trial, proven and improved ensuring our communities are safer. Reading researchers in the space of evidence based policing, it seems that many have had this experience and then had their passion ignited.

Another surprising phenomenon is how contagious this work can be. Research shows (Fajardo & Gardner, 2013) infectious diseases can be spread through direct human interaction where the contagion process is modelled on a social contact network where individuals are represented as nodes and contacts between individuals are represented as links. Whilst in medicine, a scientist would probably investigate how to stop the infection spreading by disrupting these links, I feel in policing we should explore how these links can be expanded upon to encourage research. I found that once people start to understand and be involved in rigorously assessing their ideas they seem to be inspired to develop more and more projects. I saw this in the Queensland Police Service and now I am seeing it my new home, the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Having conducted a number of training sessions in the AFP I can now see the energy and ideas starting to flow. Members are developing ways to create efficiencies and effectiveness through targeting, testing and tracking their initiatives in a great effort to keep Australia safer. I am so enthusiastic about the future of policing in Australia.

 

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