Press Release UChicago Crime Lab May 1, 2022

University of Chicago Crime Lab Launches National Policing and Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academies

As gun violence surges, $27.5 million in seed funding will allow new Community Safety Leadership Academies to provide first-of-their-kind public safety management programs.

CHICAGO, IL – Today, the University of Chicago Crime Lab launched the Community Safety Leadership Academies (CSLA), which will offer first-of-their-kind programs to train the next generation of policing and community violence intervention (CVI) leaders from across America. With a goal to be the most impactful and robustly evaluated public safety training ever offered in the United States, this effort brings together data and behavioral science insights of top academics at one of the world’s leading research institutions and our nation’s leading CVI and policing practitioners. Housed at the University of Chicago, the CSLA will include both the Policing Leadership Academy and the CVI Leadership Academy, and will offer multidisciplinary and complementary curricula that span six months. The first cohorts for both academies will graduate in 2023.

Made possible by a $25 million seed donation from Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin and a $2.5 million donation from CEO of GCM Grosvenor Michael Sacks, the CSLA seeks to improve the efficacy and impact of policing and CVI, both essential to public safety. The Crime Lab launched the CSLA during an event on the University of Chicago campus that featured community safety leaders from across the country, including U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. A live stream for the event is available here

“Improving the ability of community safety institutions to use data-driven management strategies is a vastly underutilized lever for stemming the tide of gun violence and closing the safety gap in America’s cities,” said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the Crime Lab. “That’s why we are launching the University of Chicago Community Safety Leadership Academies, the most robust public safety management programs ever offered in the United States.”

As gun violence continues to surge across the nation, the public debate about public safety has often focused on funding levels for police agencies and CVI programs. However, new research conducted by the Crime Lab found that management and leadership practices can be at least as important in determining public safety efficacy and impact. In the context of policing, the Crime Lab found that when leadership changes, it’s not uncommon to see reductions in violent crimes or police use of force on the order of 20-35%, or even more. Despite this insight, police and CVI leadership training has historically received little focus. 

“The Crime Lab and its partners have made the communities they serve safer. The success of these programs demonstrates that we know how to better protect our residents and build stronger bonds between law enforcement and our neighborhoods,” said Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel. “Leveraging these insights, the Community Safety Leadership Academies will bring together the best minds from policing, violence intervention, and research to strengthen the way we invest in community safety in cities across the nation.”

“Solving the public safety crisis facing our cities is an all-hands-on-deck problem, demanding strong leadership from the police and CVI workers on the front lines of our communities,” said Michael Sacks and partners of GCM Grosvenor. “It also demands support from the philanthropic community, which is why I’m proud to have joined Ken Griffin to provide seed funding to launch the Academies.”


More Background on CSLA

The Policing Leadership Academy at CSLA will be led by policing leaders from across America, including Sean Malinowski and Sandy Jo MacArthur, veterans of the Los Angeles Police Department, which most experts view as having undergone a dramatic improvement in public safety effectiveness and fairness over the past two decades. The academy’s curriculum will focus on teaching police leaders how to professionalize their departments with better training, management systems, accountability, and data-driven decision making. Following the six-month training program at the University of Chicago, a subset of participants will continue to an additional six-month fellowship at a police department in a different city than their home department. 

“Many implicitly assume police departments cannot change in ways that improve fairness without compromising effectiveness – but the evidence tells a different story. It’s not an “either-or” proposition, it is a “both-and” scenario,” said Bill Bratton, former NYPD Commissioner, who headed up both the NYPD and the Los Angeles Police Departments during periods of growth and change.

“By advancing 21st century best practices in management and leadership, police departments in LA, Philadelphia, DC and NYC became both more fair and more effective,” said Chuck Ramsey, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and Chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. “The new Community Safety Leadership Academies at the University of Chicago are well positioned to educate and train police leaders on how to foster change, replicate success, and improve outcomes.”

“We are at a critical time in the history of our country, a time when we need to develop police leaders who are willing to take on the mantle of responsibility for community engagement to broaden our perspective and deepen relationships with those most affected by gun violence,” said Shon F. Barnes, Chief of Police for the Madison Police Department. “As a police chief in a city that is making a concerted effort to improve public safety in collaboration with its residents, I am both excited and heartened by the promise of this new Public Safety Academy that is being designed to do just that kind of community building.”

The CVI Leadership Academy will draw on the expertise of CVI leaders and programs across the nation to prepare CVI leaders on issues like staff development and retention, data use, program administration, and innovation. While community-based gun violence intervention programs have operated for over two decades, several factors have spurred increased urgency to expand their capacity and effectiveness, including the recent surge in gun violence, the failure of a law enforcement-only approach to keep communities safe, and promising evidence that CVI programs can have impact.

The CVI Leadership Academy’s Founding Steering Committee includes Shani Buggs, Ph.D., M.P.H, Assistant Professor with the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis; Dr. Antonio Cediel, Managing Director of Live Free USA; Erica Ford, CEO and Founder of LIFE Camp; Marcus McAllister, a national violence prevention expert; Pastor Michael McBride, Executive Director of Live Free USA; David Muhammad, Executive Director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform; Oresa Napper-Williams, Executive Director of Not Another Child; Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United; and Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago. Dr. Tillmon will convene the Founding Steering Committee, as well as engage other CVI leaders, as part of an inclusive process that will develop the CVI Leadership Academy’s rigorous six-month curriculum. 

“Over the last two years, through the Fund Peace initiative, the Black and Brown Peace Consortium Board Members have been collaborating on efforts to mobilize investments into the CVI field,” said Dr. Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago. “As part of the next phase of our efforts to quell violence in vulnerable communities and elevate the CVI field, we are launching the CVI Leadership Academy at CSLA to support the next generation of leaders.”

The academies are not only an ambitious leadership development initiative, but also an ambitious research initiative. To test the impact the Policing Leadership Academy will have on cities, researchers at the Crime Lab and Cornell University Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy will conduct a multi-city randomized controlled trial. The CVI Leadership Academy curriculum will also be evaluated by the Crime Lab with the goal of elevating lessons learned to train CVI leaders at scale. 

“Not Another Child, Inc is excited to be a part of this groundbreaking partnership between the Black Brown Peace Consortium and the University of Chicago,” said Oresa Napper-Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Not Another Child. “We look forward to supporting this project by creating a culturally competent curriculum that will educate CVI leadership and reach the core of our communities.”

“This is an important and long overdue milestone for those who put their lives on the line everyday to keep our communities safe,” said Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United. “The CVI Leadership Academy at CSLA, says to our workforce: you matter and you’re a vital part of our country’s public safety ecosystem.”

“For 18 years and counting CVI has been my life,” said Marcus McAllister, CEO and founder of McAllister Consultancy and Training (MC&T). “To finally be in a position to see the field be uplifted and be one of the architects of the creation of The CVI Leadership Academy is amazing, humbling, and historic.” 

“We are very encouraged by the University of Chicago’s commitment to helping us build the next generation of peacemakers,” said Dr. Antonio Cediel, Managing Director of LIVE FREE USA. “Many of us within the Black Brown Peace Consortium have spent many years advocating for real investments into proven community-based strategies to address gun violence and we’re hopeful that this new partnership will help advance this lifesaving work.”

“Ending violence in our communities will only be achieved if we empower those closest to the pain to lead the change needed,” said Greg Jackson, Executive Director of Community Justice Action Fund. “This partnership between academic, corporate, public safety and most importantly, community leaders, is a historic stride towards addressing a public health crisis that has only been seen as a crime problem for too long.”

“Through the launching of a national CVI Academy, we have an unprecedented and exciting opportunity in community violence intervention to train the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr. Shani Buggs, Assistant Professor with the University of California Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program. “This will complement the hard work of existing CVI training in places around the country and propel the field to new heights.”

Download the press release here.