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Craig Bennell_2.jpg

Dr. craig bennell

Carleton University

Research Interests:

  • Evaluations of (and improvements to) de-escalation and use of force training programs

  • Police interactions with persons with mental illness

  • Evaluations of co-responding models (e.g., COAST, MCIT)

  • The feasibility of non-police response models for people experiencing mental health crises

  • Impact of stress on police decision making and performance

  • The use of emergency response teams

  • Measuring public attitudes towards the police

  • Identifying effective methods for educating the public about the police

  • Responses to individuals with Excited Delirium Syndrome (ExDS)

Current Projects:

  • Evaluation of a reactive COAST with the South Simcoe Police Service

  • Evaluation of a proactive COAST with the London Police Service

  • Evaluation of de-escalation training with the Ottawa Police Service and contribution to coach training

  • A range of projects with the RCMP (e.g., interactions with people with ExDS, impact of training on responses to incidents involving ExDS)

  • Examination of police response to mental health calls (situational factors, police responses, call outcome) with the Canadian Police Association and the National Police Federation

Relevance of Current Projects:

My research is always conducted in collaboration with police services, with the primary goal to improve policing in some way. We design projects with the police, bringing our academic skills to the table, to help navigate existing challenges or solve existing problems.


The research we're currently involved in around de-escalation, use of force, responses to people with mental illness, police militarization, etc. are important issues that need to be studied. The public is asking tough questions at the moment around these issues, but there is little Canadian research that services can turn to right now for adequate answers. Our research helps provide answers to these questions.


Police training in particular needs to be evaluated and improved, as do the various models being used to respond to people in crisis. Public education around policing issues is another area that needs to be urgently addressed. Our research suggests that the public has little understanding of policing issues (e.g., use of force), but attempts to educate the public are currently lacking.


We hope that our research can improve how police officers perform in the field, which in turn will enhance police and public safety, and police-community relations.

Previous Projects working with Police:

  • South Simcoe Police Service - evaluation of COAST

  • London Police Service - evaluation of COAST

  • Ottawa Police Service - evaluation of de-escalation training; exploration of ERT

  • Peel Regional Police - evaluation of school resource officer program

  • Winnipeg Police Service - exploration of ERT

  • Vancouver Police Department - exploration of ERT

  • RCMP HQ and RCMP Pacific Region Training Centre - wide range of projects over 7 years; most recently, understanding the relationship between stress and decision making/performance, and a large, national study looking at public perceptions of police officer appearance (uniform style and colour, tattoos, grooming, militarized equipment, etc.)

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