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Hassan Aden

  • Inducted June 2010
  • Nominated by Cynthia Lum and James Willis, George Mason University

Biography:

Chief Hassan Aden serves with the Greenville Police Department in North Carolina, where he was appointed Chief in 2012. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Chief in the Alexandria (Virginia) Police Department. He joined the APD in 1987 and held numerous administrative, investigative and operational assignments at the Department, working with questions such as crime control policies and strategic planning. He and his staff are deeply committed to community partnerships aimed at improving the quality of life in areas affected by crime.

He is a graduate of American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (ISPPI) from which he earned a Master of Public Administration Certificate in 2007. In December 2009, he graduated from American University’s School of Public Affairs earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.

He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police as well as the Police Executive Research Forum, and has completed the Senior Management Institute at PERF. He also serves as a team leader for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

 

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Chief Aden was instrumental in the support and implementation of a randomized controlled experiment in license plate recognition systems at hot spots conducted by George Mason University with the Alexandria Police Department. This experiment is a replication of the Police Executive Research Forum’s License Plate Reader Experiments with an added component of a random-sample community survey gauging community concerns with the technology. In 2006 he helped introduce and deploy a number of LPR systems in patrol, and was key in working with the George Mason University team to implement this experiment, being involved from the ground up in assuring that implementation was carried out.

Many of the patrol officers in Alexandria remarked on Chief Aden’s hands-on mentorship approach, which makes him highly successful in incorporating innovative and difficult research and field experiments in daily police practices. Most notably, Chief Aden transformed his patrol sector when he was a district commander in Alexandria from a reactive beat patrol approach to a directed hot spots approach using the Koper Curve principle. Given that very few other agencies in the U.S. have transitioned their traditional beat patrol system to a directed hot spots approach, this change is viewed as one of the most innovative in modern policing.

 

Publications and projects reflecting Chief Aden’s efforts:

  • George Mason University License Plate Web Portal
  • Lum, C. (PI), Merola, L. (co-PI), Willis, J., and Cave, B. License Plate Recognition Technologies for Law Enforcement: An Outcome and Legitimacy Evaluation. SPAWAR (Department of the Navy)-NIJ Funded Project.
  • Lum, Cynthia, Julie Hibdon, Breanne Cave, Christopher Koper and Linda Merola. (2011). License plate reader (LPR) police patrols in crime hot spots: An experimental evaluation in two adjacent jurisdictions.Journal of Experimental Criminology. 7(4),  321-345.
  • Merola, Linda, Cynthia Lum, Breanne Cave and Julie Hibdon. (Forthcoming). Community Support for License Plate Recognition. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management.
  • Aden, H. (2010). Automatic License Plate Reader Technology. SPAWAR Webinar, May 3, 2010.

Statement from Chief Aden:

I became interested in the work of researchers soon after being assigned the task of researching and developing a customized Compstat program for our agency. I travelled to various agencies and conducted site visits and interviews with police officials-all of which was very helpful. I also began reading research papers that highlighted specific Compstat programs. These research papers were extremely helpful in pointing out programs and practices that we should focus on, as well as ones we should avoid.

Soon after our implementation team finalized and implemented our Compstat program, I was assigned as a district commander in charge of police service in a very challenging area of our city. I quickly realized that I did not have the appropriate resources to continue our traditional policing methods and cover all of the areas that we were having problems in. Around this time, I began reading about Hot Spot or location-based policing, specifically Anthony Braga’s work. His research was unbelievably timely for me as my district’s crime statistics were driving the city’s crime rate. I began experimenting with the Hot Spot concept as I understood it but felt like I needed more information and personal discussion. Several months later, I attended the Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police and had the opportunity to learn more about Hot Spots from Anthony Braga as he was one of the professors in the program.

In 2008 I began exploring the Koper Curve (Chris Koper, PERF) and found the concept to be exactly what we needed given the few resources and the large and densely populated geography we were policing. Our district slowly adapted our Hot Spots methodology, and associated tactics, to the Koper Curve principles. Commanders began seeing crime reductions almost immediately, but more importantly, the officers on the street began noticing that their work was making an impact on these locations.

In 2009, our city reached a 43-year low in Part 1 crime and, although all of the districts contributed to this success, the West End District drove its crime down to a point that impacted the entire city and allowed us to achieve this incredible outcome. Our success is largely attributable to our development of well defined Hot Spots and our commitment to using research to guide our tactics within those Hot Spots.

During the beginning stages of our research based strategies, there were some organizational hurdles to overcome. These hurdles consisted of minor opposition to deployment strategies and particularly change that moved us away from how we currently addressed crime and disorder problems. The organizational hurdles were minor only because we recently (2007) overhauled our entire agency through the implementation of the Strategic Response System (Compstat).

Our successes with Hot Spots have sparked an interest within our agency to work with researchers on many different aspects of policing. We are currently partnered with researchers studying the impact of License Plate Reader technology in crime hot spots, as well as in the beginning/planning stages of a Legitimacy in Policing study that looks at the impact of how we interact with people during our day to day policing in crime hot spots.

Evidence-Based Policing has given me a much broader perspective on how significantly policing impacts crime, police officers, victims, suspects and entire communities. I am still learning and developing my skills as a police administrator, but feel comfortable in embracing and using research to help me make better decisions in every aspect of my job.

The outcome that I am most proud of in our work with Evidence-Based Policing is that we have built a cadre of officers, that continues to grow, who believe in the value that research brings to our profession. As these officers get transferred, promoted or transition to other professions, they bring with them a mindset that moves them forward with their eyes open to the possibilities offered by partnering with researchers and academics.

 

Testimonials

Officer Tara May, Alexandria Police Department: “I am writing on behalf of Deputy Aden because for the past 9 1/2 years he has not only served as a mentor to me and to so many other officers at the Alexandria Police Department, but he has also proven to be a friend. He always has an open ear and always allows officers to voice their ideas, good or bad, freely with him.

When he introduced the idea of “hot spots” to sector 3, majority of the officers accepted the theory with open arms. Because of the trusting and truly honest relationship that then Captain Aden has with all of his officers, his ideas were never questioned. He has proven to be a commander who truly “thinks outside the box”. When he introduced the hot spots, he also implemented special detail assignments to target these areas. These special assignments not only made a difference to the criminal activity in these areas, the morale of the officers assigned to these areas and also to the citizens who reside there. 

It has been quite some time since Deputy Chief Aden introduced the hot spot model of policing to the sector and it has proven to work. Crime has dropped significantly in these areas and relationships have been developed with the citizens who call these areas their home.

I truly believe that the theory of hot spots and the implementation of them was so successful and accepted by so many officers because of how passionate Deputy Chief Aden was about the concept. It has proven to be a passion that many of us now share thanks to him.

He truly deserves recognition for all that he has done for the officers under his command and the citizens of Alexandria.”

James Willis, George Mason University: “Meaningful and productive researcher-practitioner partnerships depend heavily on the commitment of police leaders. Only with the establishment of mutual respect and cooperation can police science truly progress in ways that contribute to evidence-based policy, police organizations, and the communities they serve. Deputy Chief Aden subscribes wholeheartedly to this vision, finding ways to bridge the traditional divide between scholarship and practice. Along with his colleagues, his unequivocal and continued participation and support of several research projects between GMU and the Alexandria Police Department has been invaluable to their overall success and helped create a model for future partnerships from which others might learn.”

 

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