On October 22, COSSA, in partnership with the Crime & Justice Research Alliance (CJRA), hosted the latest in an ongoing series of “Ask a Criminologist” briefings, which seek to connect leading criminologists to policy makers to address prevalent criminal justice issues. The event, which focused on issues related to policing and community relations in the wake of recent protests, featured Dr. Jennifer Cobbina, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University; Dr. Rod Brunson, Thomas O’Neill Chair of Criminology at Northeastern University; and Dr. Everette Penn, Professor of Criminal Justice at University of Houston Clear Lake and founder of the Teen and Public Service Center. The panel was moderated by Dr. William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Professor of Criminal Justice in the Wilder School at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The briefing featured unique perspectives from each of the panelists, with each holding a different stance on recent calls for police reform. Topics of discussion included the policy implications and merits of calls to “defund the police,” the systemic factors affecting the Black community’s relationship with police departments, the role of the Black Lives Matter movement in shifting the discourse surrounding police reform, disparities in policing practices between high-income and low-income communities, and police training and community engagement initiatives such as the Teen and Police Service (TAPS) Academy. The full briefing is available on YouTube on the Virginia Commonwealth University Wilder School’s channel.