George Mason University's College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy has partnered with the Fairfax County Police Department and the National Policing Institute to conduct a long-term study on the careers of police officers. The study, which aims to understand why officers stay in their jobs, why they leave, and the pivotal experiences which shape their careers, will be conducted over two decades, provided that funding can be secured.
The study is being led by Cynthia Lum, Ph.D., a Mason University Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, and Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and Beidi Dong, Ph.D., a Mason Associate Professor of Criminology, Law and Society. Professor Lum, who has personal experience as a law enforcement officer is interested in understanding what personal, organizational, and external factors shape officers’ careers over time and the career decisions that they make.
The study will be a first-of-its-kind multi-method longitudinal study of a cohort of police officers. The research team also hopes to understand what changes police agencies can make to ensure officers are the most successful in serving their communities throughout their careers.
Preliminary portions of the study are being supported by the National Policing Institute, using funding that the Institute received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The Institute's President, Jim Burch, hopes to find additional funding to keep the study going for 20 years or longer. He also hopes to expand the research to other regions and other topics in policing.
April 10, 2023