(RJ) Rich Johnston
Inducted June 2022
Nominated by Laura Huey, University of Western Ontario
Deputy Chief Rich (RJ) Johnston has served as a police officer for over 24 years. He began his career in 1997 as a uniformed officer for the Ontario Provincial Police in Northern Ontario. He then went on to serve in all areas of the Barrie Police Service, including Operations, Operational Support, Investigative Services, and Executive Services. Deputy Chief Johnston is the first Canadian to earn the Law Enforcement Advancing Data & Science (LEADS) Scholar status from the U.S. National Institute of Justice and the Canadian Society of Evidence-Based Policing (CANSEBP) in 2018. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Queen’s University in Kingston and a Master’s Degree in Leadership Studies from the University of Guelph. He is currently enrolled at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Applied Criminology and Police Management. Deputy Johnston serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Society of Evidence-Based Policing as the Director of Research.
Evidence-Based Research and Practice:
Johnston is recognized for both developing the evidence-base for policing in Canada and working to institutionalize an evidence-based approach into Canadian police agencies. During his time as a LEADS scholar, he developed strong relationships with researchers at BetaGov, completing six different studies in policing. His efforts led the Barrie Police Service to become one of the first Canadian police agencies to conduct randomized controlled trials.
For example, he and his colleagues focused on testing the impact of collaborative situation tables on justice outcomes. These collaborations aim to proactively address the needs of high-risk community members through a coordinated response across multiple agencies (law enforcement, first responders, child services, behavioral health, social services, etc.). This study found that a collaborative approach could lead to significant declines in justice involvement for individuals involved in the program. Other quasi-experimental and exploratory studies he has led have documented intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, police car visibility to reduce traffic accidents, and the effects of junior leadership camps. In addition, he has studied correlates to crime rates, such as sporting events, lunar cycles, and temperature.
Deputy Chief Johnston supports several other evidence-based policing initiatives in the Barrie Police Service. These studies include analyzing the impacts of enhanced monitoring on recidivism, developing a more evidence-based school liaison program, determining public perceptions of the police, and understanding alternate call responses and diversion. The breadth of his interests showcases his commitment to strengthening the research knowledge across all facets of law enforcement.
Professor Huey notes that Deputy Chief Johnston has been especially active in improving the receptivity, uptake, and institutionalization of evidence-based policing within his organization and in Ontario. In 2019, Johnston suggested developing the Barrie Police Service into a teaching institution, similar to teaching hospitals, where innovations are developed and other police services can learn about evidence-based policing. He advocated for educational materials to be created and disseminated and for the Police Services Board to support Barrie police personnel taking the Cambridge distance-educational course on evidence-based policing. The Barrie Police have now developed a weekly trivia on learned content to generate interest and knowledge acquisition. To advance evidence-based policing beyond the walls of his department, DC Johnston plays an active role in bringing researchers and the evidence to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, especially through its most recent virtual conference.
Statement from Inductee:
Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:
- Reporting Intimate Partner Violence – ‘The Covid Effect’ (2020)
- Collaborate Barrie Situation Table (2020)
- Temperature and Vehicle Thefts (2019)
- Patrol car visibility for reducing accidents at intersections (2019)
- Evaluating the relationship between crime and phase of the moon (2018)