Kenneth Clary

Inducted June 2019

Nominated by Cynthia Lum and Christopher S. Koper, George Mason University


Kenneth D. Clary is a Captain in the Iowa State Patrol (ISP), where he has served for 25 years. He currently commands ISP’s Area C, which covers 28 counties in northeast Iowa. Captain Clary has served in numerous capacities and ranks in the Iowa State Patrol and has specialized experience leading response and tactical teams, commanding districts, and serving as a coordinator for CALEA Accreditation. Captain Clary is a National Institute of Justice Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholar and a FBI National Academy graduate.  He serves as a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Research Advisory Committee as well as an Executive Fellow for the National Police Foundation. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Upper Iowa University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa. Captain Clary has also been recognized by the Iowa Governor’s Office for his volunteer service.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Captain Clary is recognized for developing and institutionalizing a unique, innovative, and evidence-based initiative known as the Fatality Reduction Enforcement Effort (FREE) in the Iowa State Police to combat fatal vehicle crashes on rural roads and communities. Captain Clary first developed the strategy based on linking routine activities, opportunity, and deterrence theories with problem-oriented policing principles, the Koper principle of residual deterrence, research on crime concentrations and hot spots, and research on community-oriented policing and procedural justice to create the only existing program of its kind to reduce fatalities on rural roadways. This problem-solving approach focuses on towns that have a high probability of rural road crashes within a two to three-mile radius of their borders.

Lum and Koper in their nomination note that “Captain Clary’s intervention is innovative for state patrol agencies, especially those responsible for large areas of rural roads. First, this intervention looks at the extended opportunity structures and pathways that ultimately lead to fatal vehicle crashes. Such an approach is extremely thoughtful and grounded in decades of criminological research related to routine activities and environmental criminology. Second, Cpt. Clary is extending the community-oriented role of the state patrol beyond the procedural interactions that take place between troopers and drivers. The troopers are now providing service in rural towns, where they did not previously provide as much service (even though these places are within their jurisdiction). Third, this service is non-punitive, which may serve to increase the legitimacy of law enforcement more generally at these places, as well as provide preventive effects not initially present. Overall, the goal is to reduce fatalities on rural roads, a significant problem that many state police agencies face. In the first year alone, his troopers carried out nearly 10,000 implementations of this intervention as part of their daily activities. His officers are on target to reach over 40,000 visits to hot spots in this second year. Numerous federal and state law enforcement and traffic safety organizations have taken notice, wanting to replicate the program in other places.” The program continues to be evaluated in a long-term quasi-experimental evaluation.

Lum and Koper note that “Captain Clary deserves induction into the Hall of Fame as he embodies the rare examples in the Hall of police leaders who take an institutionalization approach to evidence-based policing. First he carefully examined the evidence-base in both policing and place-based criminology to consider the underlying mechanisms that might work for prevention of traffic fatalities in rural areas. Then, he developed and pilot-tested a redeployment of portions of his patrol command based on that research evidence and building in an evaluation component. Finally he proceeded to readjust the daily deployment of all of the troopers under his command into this deployment model, training and mentoring officers to be successful. In other words, Captain Clary embodies what evidence-based policing is at its core–the institutionalization of scientific findings and analysis into the everyday practices of policing. He not only institutionalized this deployment but also records and tracks the deployment so that it can be carefully evaluated. Given the added difficulty of applying the evidence to rural areas, his efforts are building both the research and law enforcement communities’ ability to understand the application of criminological theory and research evidence to rural areas. His operational efforts are exactly what the Hall of Fame recognizes.”

Statement from Inductee:

I want to thank Drs. Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper for nominating me for this prestigious award. I am extremely honored by my induction to the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame and am proud to have been selected to be a part of such an amazing group of researchers working diligently to implement evidence-based practices.

It has been the highlight of my 25 year law enforcement career to have the honor to be associated with such an amazing group of academicians, practitioners, and ‘pracademics’ (as we fondly refer to our practitioner-academics), over the last three years. The vast majority of these interactions were a direct result of my selection to the Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholars program through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in 2016, and subsequently the LEADS Agency pilot program in 2018.

As it states on the NIJ webpage, the LEADS Scholars program “supports the professional development and research capacity of mid-career, sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to advancing the police profession through science”. Through numerous training opportunities, exposure to countless academic and research partners, exposure to like-minded ‘pracademics’ working and studying in the field from across the United States, and the outstanding leadership from within the NIJ, this program has provided unparalleled opportunity for all who are fortunate enough to participate, as well as those who benefit from the research their scholars produce.

During my time as a LEADS Scholar, I have been personally inspired by the work of my fellow LEADS Scholars, as they have boldly forged new ground in law enforcement research in their own departments, and around the world. Make no mistake, the strides they have made did not always come easily for them, as they fought to introduce evidence-based practices, however their departments and law enforcement in general will benefit from their work for generations to come.

Being surrounded by a group of like-minded ‘pracademics’ has opened my eyes to what is possible, while being called to action by NIJ leadership (in particular Maureen McGough, Gary Cordner, and Geoff Alpert), has empowered me to make a difference in the areas of law enforcement that I have purview over. Finally, the willingness of forward thinking academics, (like Drs. Lum and Koper in my case) to seek out practitioners and partner with them in their research, enables practitioners to take their study to the next level.

Woodrow Wilson, often referred to as the father of modern public administration, stated that, “the objective of administration is to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and secondly, how it can do these proper things in the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy” (Wilson, 1887). This idea resounds in evidence-based policing today. Law enforcement throughout the world owe it to the public they serve to ensure that every dollar allocated to public safety is used in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Evidence-based policing is law enforcement’s way to ensure this happens.

I would also like to thank the academics and practitioners who have paved the way in the realm of evidence-based policing, (the likes of David Weisburd and James Bueermann). Without their vision and leadership, this movement would not be where it is today.

[Referenced: Wilson, W. (1887). The Study of Administration. Political Science Quarterly2(2), 197-222.]

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

Clary, Kenneth. (2018). Utilizing Data and Science to Reduce Serious Injury and Fatality Crashes on Rural Roadways. Translational Criminology Magazine, 15, 12-13, 24.

Clary, Kenneth. (2018). Employing Evidence to Combat Everyday Tragedy. National Institute of Justice, Notes from the Field.