Stephen Brown

Inducted June 2017

Nominated by Lawrence Sherman, University of Cambridge and the University of Maryland


Stephen Brown is Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Reform for the Western Australia Police Service, where he has served in a variety of roles and leadership positions in last 33 years. In 2012 he was appointed Deputy Commission of Specialist Services and Reform, and in 2014, into his current role. As the agency’s reform lead Mr. Brown is responsible for delivering the new metropolitan police operating model, regional policing reform, a comprehensive review of the agency’s services, expenditures and units, and implementation of evidence-based policing. Mr. Brown was awarded an MSt in Applied Criminology and Police Management from the University of Cambridge.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Professor Sherman writes that Deputy Commissioner Brown “has been an amazing champion of evidence-based policing in his police force.” Beginning in 2014, Brown commissioned and sponsored a major program of evidence-based policing in the Western Australian Police, consisting of a permanent Evidence-Based Policing Division of approximately 20 officers and civilians. The Division’s focus is to use evidence-based principles to analyze, evaluate, identify, and implement policing strategies that work. This includes designing and implementing evidence-based trials and experimental research to examine the effects of police actions and interventions, to leverage information technology to track resources for optimum performance, and to deliver and disseminate information on evidence-based policing. Brown has hired numerous outsiders to help out, as well as created a permanent “Director of Criminology” post within the division.

Some of the experiment research undertaken by Brown and the division include examining whether increased police patrol dosage reduces crime and disorder within entertainment districts; examining the effects of body worn camera deployment on police operations and public perceptions; evaluating the effectiveness and cost benefit of diverting first time, low-harm offenders; and determining whether warning communication notices sent to at-risk drives might reduce their involvement in crashes. The Evidence-Based Policing Division is also deeply involved in changing the culture and practice of the police service towards a more evidence-based framework through training and assistance. Brown has also strongly supported investing in graduate education for leaders in his agency.

DC Brown is the Chair of the Australia & New Zealand Society of Evidence-Based Policing (ANZSEBP) and has advocated for a major drive to spread evidence-based policing thinking across Australia. He has also supported the development of annual meetings of ANZSEBP at the Australian Institute for Police Management in Sydney as well as a newsletter and a professional journal with four issues a year called Police Science: the ANZ Journal of Evidence-Based Policing.

Statement from Inductee:

Western Australia’s population of 2.58 million people are spread across a massive and diverse geography spanning 2.6 million square kilometres. I joined the Western Australia Police (a team of 8,300 personnel) in 1983 and since that time have devoted myself to operational frontline policing; leading organised crime and homicide investigations; before being promoted up through commissioned ranks.

Back in 2014, after 31 years of service, I found myself sitting in Little Hall in Cambridge University England as a student in the M.St programme in Applied Criminology and Police Leadership. This programme opened my mind to the world of Evidenced-Based Policing and the reality, that much of the policing effort that I was responsible for directing (some 4,760 police personnel) and my own decision making had little basis in evidence. This realisation was confronting, but important for me, and it has set me on a path designed to reshape the way in which police in my home State and Australia both: think about; and apply policing in practice.

My studies and work in policing have since centred on how to create a Macro-level, agency-wide ‘tipping point’, a movement towards true evidenced-based practice. There have been many successes to date, and importantly I now observe police practitioners talking about tackling problems in new, more scientific ways. The language of the agency has also changed, with terms such as; ‘targeting’; ‘testing’; and ‘tracking’ common place. The thinking and importantly the police culture is also slowly changing.

But more needs to be done by all leaders in policing, no matter what their rank or position. My focus is no longer on past achievements, rather ‘what we do next’ as that is vital to cutting through the complexity and uncertainty of the policing context. The future demands evidenced-based policy and police practice, and I for one will continue to champion this cause.