Scott Darnell Speaks with UNMs MPP

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Nov 09, 2017 - 12:00am

Scott Darnell, the Director of the Albuquerque Innovation team, came to speak with the Policy Seminar class on November 9th.The ABQ i-team is a part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams program, and works to provide a deeper understanding of challenging issues in the city. Mr. Darnell spoke about the work the ABQ i-team has been doing to create a more comprehensive criminal database that can be used to understand and better manage crime in Albuquerque. Mr. Darnell and his team have collected and analyzed data from local law enforcement and corrections agencies to get a better picture of where crime happens in the city, where arrests are made and how to use the data we have to better manage crime.

Mr. Darnell spoke to how difficult it is to track an individual through the criminal justice process without data being integrated, how most crimes are committed by relatively few individuals, and especially how agencies have a tendency to deal with cases rather than people. Thinking in terms of cases can hinder agencies in prioritizing repeat offenders and recognizing patterns that exist when crime data is interpreted through the lens of people. Mr. Darnell also shared some of his experiences in working with local agencies to access and compile their data, and to have the new database be maintained after the ABQ i-team has finished its project.

Mr. Darnell previously worked for New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez until 2016 as Deputy Chief of Staff and as Director of Communications. He spoke about how he approached his role in the Governor’s office, how to advise decision makers, and how to present complicated policy matters concisely. Mr. Darnell pointed out that big policy problems are usually made up of many smaller problems, and it is more effective to work towards solving those smaller problems than to try to solve one big problem, like crime, through another tough problem, like poverty. Instead, looking into convictions and recidivism, how bail and bond is administered, or the way cases are prioritized in the district attorney’s office can break the large problem of crime into manageable pieces.

Mr. Darnell received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from UNM before attending the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he received his MPP.