Tracking crime and teaching justice
Darin Reedy combines police work with academia
Darin Reedy, the crime analyst for the Olympia Police Department, spends his days tracking patterns of crime and criminal offenders. He spends some of his evenings guiding students at Brandman University through a variety of criminal justice courses.
“It’s been great to have the overlap between academia and my position,” said Reedy, who can find any number of examples from his day job to help with his adjunct teaching position at the Lacey, Washington, campus.
He’s also quick to emphasize to his students that police work is much more nuanced than what they’ve seen on television or in the movies. “It’s not all glorious. It’s not all clear-cut,” he said. Although he doesn’t experience the stress of patrol work first hand, his work with patrol officers and detectives helps him understand the complexity of their jobs as well and pass along that knowledge to students.
Reedy began working with the Olympia Police Department in 2004, just as medium-sized police departments were beginning to see the value of the crime analysis that larger departments used.
“I got carte blanche to develop a foundation for the unit. That allowed me to incorporate the things that I had done (in graduate school and for research think tanks in Washington, D.C.). I was given the latitude to branch out into my interests in organized crime work,” said Reedy.
Much of what he does is like putting together a puzzle. Recently he was searching for patterns in a series of bank robberies. “Are they targeting certain kinds of banks? Is it a location? Is he or she targeting a certain time of the day or day of the week?” are questions he uses data to answer. Then he shares those answers with Olympia detectives and other agencies along the I-5 corridor.
Reedy said when he enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he thought he would eventually go to law school. A summer working in a law firm changed his mind, and he switched his major to society and justice – “essentially a sociology degree.”
He knew he was interested in criminal justice – not law school and not being a police officer. After earning a graduate degree in criminal justice at the University of Maryland, College Park, he began working for the Urban Institute on the effects of an assault weapons ban and then for the Bureau of Governmental Research, studying recidivism and drug offenders.
Moving back to the Seattle area to be closer to family, he first tried working as a consultant before creating his position with the Olympia Police Department. He started teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Brandman in 2010.
Learning from his Brandman students
He finds that his classes of adult learners, often active military or retired military, a refreshing change from the 18-year-old undergraduates he was teaching while in graduate school.
“There’s so much diversity, in a very positive way,” he said. That diversity includes growing up in Chicago or New York with vastly different life experiences. It also means there’s a diversity of opinions expressed.
“The military tends to be a little more pro-enforcement. Even so, I’ve had several who really don’t trust law enforcement and that is so needed in our classrooms. You don’t need just one side. I continue to learn from my students and my students learn from their classmates,” said Reedy.
He’s also able to change perceptions by the people he brings to class, including convicted offenders who have turned their lives around.
“I can talk all day about a case but that is not the same as someone coming into your class and saying, ‘that was me. I robbed a bank.’”
Helping Brandman students see that connection is just one more example of how being a practitioner first adds value to the education Brandman provides.
This story appeared first in FTE magazine.
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