Research to optimize the work of law enforcement

Research to optimize the work of law enforcement

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John Shjarback researches how environmental and organizational factors influence American policing.

john shjarback, Ph.D.

Criminologist

Areas of expertise:

policing, criminal justice policy, gun violence

More information

It’s a critical time to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement, according to John Shjarback, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Law & Justice Studies in Rowan’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

In today’s polarized atmosphere, half of U.S. citizens are critical of police departments without recognizing their strengths, whereas the other half do not see a need for improvement, Shjarback said.

“The best departments find a way to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm to the community,” he said.

Shjarback helps them do just that, researching factors that influence how officers perform their duties. A prolific researcher, he has been published in peer-reviewed journals and mainstream outlets such as The Washington Post. He recently secured funding from the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University and the South Jersey Institute for Population Health.

He has partnered with the Atlantic City Police Department, which uses automated license plate readers to compare scanned plates with criminal databases.

“We’re studying its impact on crime, specifically motor vehicle thefts and gun violence in Atlantic City,” Shjarback said.

In addition, Shjarback is working with the Millville, New Jersey Police Department, which is embedding a social worker to assist the department with mental health crises and addiction-related calls.

Shjarback hopes his research will have a real-world impact in helping agencies in complex environments better manage crime and gun violence.

American policing is a sensitive topic, but research is vitally important, Shjarback said.

“Now more than ever we need good evaluative research to tackle some of these challenging and complex problems in our society,” he said. “That’s what I hope to accomplish. I try to distance myself from politics and follow what the research and findings show.”

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