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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

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EPPS Program Overview

Our mission is to ensure all public safety professionals are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to do what works and what matters to equitably advance public safety in South Carolina and beyond.

Police are called upon to address a host of inherently complex social issues, but too often struggle to access the knowledge base and acquire the skill sets necessary to meet these demands. Police departments are complicated organizational structures with broad, complex missions, but training and professional development for police leaders at any level is limited at best. And there are few if any formal opportunities for police to work collaboratively with researchers and the communities they serve to improve public safety services on a foundation of evidence and shared priorities.

In the Fall of 2023, the South Carolina Legislature appropriated $10 million to the University of South Carolina School of Law to establish the Program for Excellence in Policing and Public Safety (EPPS). At EPPS, we are committed to integrating police, researchers, and communities to meet contemporary challenges, advance the police profession, and improve public safety outcomes for all communities. 

Guiding Principles

The South Carolina state legislature appropriated funds for this program to fill critical gaps in police training, technical assistance, and research. There is no greater expertise on the needs of the field than the field itself, and the Program will work closely with police practitioners, trainers, researchers, and policymakers to identify key priorities and collaboratively develop offerings that advance fair, effective, and equitable public safety services in the state.

Policing is a public institution, and the public deserves a meaningful say in how they are policed. It is important that our efforts reflect the public safety priorities of the communities police serve – especially those most impacted by police activities. The Program will advance the co-production of public safety in South Carolina, and facilitate continuous feedback loops to ensure the public voice is heard, prioritized, and integrated.

All training offerings will reflect the latest scientific developments in adult learning theory and will be grounded in scientific evidence about what works and what matters for fair, effective, equitable policing. The Program will be built on a foundation of evaluation and iteration – we will constantly be assessing the extent to which our offerings are having the impact intended, modifying as needed, and ensuring all learning objectives are met.

All Program offerings will be oriented toward policy and practice. Training and technical assistance will be designed for immediate impact in the field, with a focus on advancing the field in a way that is feasible, reasonable, and sustainable. Research will focus on clear and timely application to police policy and practice.

The effectiveness and impact of our trainings and programming are inseparably linked with the extent to which these offerings are accessible to the people who need them most, and inclusive of all practitioners seeking to advance the profession. We are designing our offerings to be accessible to all South Carolina agencies regardless of mission, location, size, capacity, and resources. We also are maximizing accessibility for all officers, and are mindful of the professional and personal responsibilities that must be balanced while individuals are in training. We are intentional in our inclusivity and are working to ensure there are no unnecessary or disparate barriers to participation.

How EPPS Serves the Community

Too often, police training, research, and technical assistance are pursued independently. This fractured approach often results in agencies adopting strategies that are not grounded in scientific evidence or research conducted without proper consideration of the applied realities of the job. By integrating training, professional development, research, and technical assistance, we are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the police profession and the communities it serves. 

Many of the training, research, and technical assistance needs of law enforcement implicate other disciplines such as public health and education. The Program is well-positioned to establish and leverage strategic partnerships to inform our work and increase the impact of our investments. We are in the early stages of identifying critical organizational partnerships to build on existing progress and resources in other fields. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.