Timothy Hegarty

Inducted June 2014

Nominated by Sue Williams, Kansas State University


Captain Tim Hegarty has served with the Riley County (KS) Police Department since 1995 and currently is the Administrative Services Division Commander for the agency. He has risen through the ranks to hold a number of leadership positions including patrol division commander, investigations division commander (and also previously lieutenant), as well as a training officer and watch commander. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, a member of the IACP, the Kansas Peace Officers Association and the Police Society for Problem-Based Learning. Hegarty earned an executive masters of business administration from Benedictine College, a Bachelor of Arts from Washburn University, and held a European Management Residency in Entrepreneurship and Business, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Cpt. Hegarty is also an adjunct instructor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State University.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Cpt. Hegarty has long been involved in organizational reform in his department using research and knowledge, and Professor Williams writes that he brings to policing “a quiet but bold leadership, based in science and culture.”  As the department’s training officer, Captain Hegarty (then Lt. Hegarty) implemented a new Police Training Officer (PTO) program in 2006, focusing on professionally developing police officers that can think on their own and solve problems, after vigorous study of programs develops from the COPS Office and the Police Executive Research Forum. One of the program’s fundamental tenets is the concept of failing forward, a forward thinking philosophy based on the idea that encourages the trying out of new things, the willingness to accept if they don’t work and to learn from those experiences to encourage future efforts. Professor Williams noted that this philosophy has been widely adopted by the agency due to Cpt. Hegarty’s efforts, and that it has facilitated increased receptivity to evidence-based policing.

Cpt. Hegarty is especially recognized for his leadership in his research-based program initiative known as Operational Laser Point, which was recently featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Translational Criminology Magazine. Laser Point followed an experiment conducted by Renée Mitchell (another Hall of Fame Member) of the Sacramento, California, Police Department, which found that increasing police presence in high-crime micro places for short periods (12 to 15 minutes—the Koper Principle) had resulted in reduced crime and calls for service. RCPD developed a similar strategy for Manhattan, Kansas in partnership with KSU researchers. The RCPD study was innovative for two reasons. First, the hot spots policing literature had not been applied to smaller jurisdictions such as Manhattan (population 53,000). Second, and more important, little research has assessed behavioral practices of police officers in hot spots. RCPD sought practical and experimental insights into these issues for both its own agency and other agencies of similar size and situation.The Laser Point Initiative not only reduced crime and calls for service, but also yielded other benefits. It produced greater crime reduction benefits than previous operations but doing so without any public perception of overly aggressive enforcement tactics. At a time when trust between the police and the community is so essential, deployment strategies such as Laser Point suggest that the police can reduce crime without jeopardizing their legitimacy. Laser Point also demonstrated that a smaller agency can undertake meaningful research and evaluation of new strategies at little cost to the department and with great returns.

In 2013, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) awarded Operation Laser Point a Bronze Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement Research. On the national stage Cpt. Hegarty and the RCPD have just been selected to participate in a documentary for a Department of Justice national training grant, managed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation. The program will develop and deliver a national evidence-based policing practices training aimed at reducing violent crime; the RCPD case will specifically address evidence-based policing in non-metropolitan areas.

Statement from Inductee:

There’s a line from a Talking Heads song that perfectly expressed my initial feelings about being accepted into the CEBCP’s Hall of Fame- I looked at the Hall’s current members, and I looked at this year’s inductees, and I said to myself, “My God, how did I get here?” Upon reflection, though, the answer to that question became crystal clear. I got here because I work for a progressive organization that trusts me. I got here because my partner in crime and nominator, Sue Williams, believes me to be far more than I truly am. I got here because George Mason and its Center for Evidence-Base Crime Policy see great value in serving as a place of ideas about preventing crime. I got here because Renée Mitchell and others like her went through the wall, got bloodied doing it, and made a way for me to follow. Finally, I got here because my family has always been there for me, despite the fact that I have frequently not been there for them. The honor is theirs.

As for my small role in this story, the pursuit of evidence-based practices for the Riley County Police Department began on August 4, 2006, while I was participating in a training seminar in Overland Park, KS, sponsored by the Mid-America Regional Crime Analysts Network (MARCAN). The key speaker was Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple University. He began his presentation by reciting a list of well-known strategies employed by the police and the criminal justice system to prevent crime, asking us to write each down (I still have my handwritten list). He then went through the separate strategies, encouraging us to raise our hands if we believed that they worked. After giving our responses, he informed us that none of the strategies worked to prevent crime. At that point, I was introduced to a study published in 1998 that summarized the evidence for what works, what doesn’t work, and what’s promising in the field of crime prevention. The study was eight-years old at the time, and I had never heard about it!

I returned to the Riley County Police Department and feverishly began typing out a memo to my chain of command that proposed a new direction in crime prevention, one built on a foundation of evidence-based practices such as hot spot policing and a repeat offender unit. The memo concluded this way:

“This has been a rather lengthy discussion, but the ideas expressed here can best be summarized by noted police researcher James Q. Wilson, who said that “what the police do may be more important than how many there are, that patrol focused on particular persons or locations may be better than random patrol, and that speed may be less important than information.” That is, I believe, what crime reduction is all about- focusing on problem people and problem places using accurate, timely information. I don’t know exactly how the Riley County Police Department should do that, but I do know that we should be talking about it right now and developing specific plans.”

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, my proposal was rejected. The ending of this story, however, is a happy one. I never surrendered the pursuit. I never stopped seeking more information about evidence-based practices, and the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy became one of my primary sources. In time, and with new leadership, I was fortunate enough to be granted a more influential role in our organization, which became united behind a belief that a police department’s most fundamental goal is to reduce crime. I am pleased to report that as of this writing, the Riley County Police Department is actually doing everything proposed in my 2006 memo. That’s not the most rewarding part of the story, however, and neither is receiving this honor. The most rewarding part is the fact that since we began implementing evidence-based policing strategies, the crime rate in our community has fallen over 30% and continues to fall to record low levels. Kansas State University has been our research partner throughout this process, and their assessments show that our efforts are playing a significant role in the reductions we are seeing. A safer, more secure community is what evidence-based policing is all about, and I am thankful that I was able to make a contribution to our agency’s mission of reducing crime and improving the quality of life for the citizens of Riley County.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Hegarty, T. (2010). Power Law Distribution and Solving the Crime Problem. The Police Chief Magazine, 77, 28-36.
  • Hegarty, T., & Williams, L.S. (2014). Research in Brief: Hot Spot Policing at Work in Non-Urban Jurisdictions. The Police Chief, 81, 12-14.
  • Hegarty, T., Williams, L.S., Stanton, S., & Chernoff, W. (2014). Evidence-Based Policing at Work in Smaller Jurisdictions. Translational Criminology Magazine, Spring 2014, 14-15, 18.
  • Koper, C.S., Hegarty, T., Lum, C., & Wu, X. (2021). Long-Term Success of Hot Spot Policing in a Small City. Police Chief, August 2021, 20-23.
  • Koper, C.S., Lum, C., Wu, X., & Hegarty, T. (2021). The Long-Term and System-Level Impacts of Institutionalizing Hot Spot Policing in a Small City. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 15(2), 1110-1128.
  • Crime Analysis, Futuristics and Law Enforcement: The 21st Century. National Academy Associate, 11 (5), 16-32.
  • Failing Forward: A Journey to the Police Training Officer Program. Kansas Peace Officer, 51 (3), 27-34.
  • In coordination with L. Susan Williams, Don Kurtz, and Erin Freidline. Initial Assessment Report: Operation Impact and Repeat Offenders Program. Kansas State University. May, 2011.