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Every day we form opinions and make decisions on things we have very little direct experience with. How do we do this? How do I know my medicines are safe? How do I know another driver will stop their car at an intersection? And for me, how to jurors, military tribunals, or elected officials make decisions about things they have not directly witnessed or experienced themselves?

These questions drive my curiosity and research agenda. Given imperfect information, how do any of us cope with the overwhelming complexity of our modern world? I’ve looked at several different settings where this problem occurs: How do elected officials interpret and weigh evidence for their policy agendas? How do computer scientists anticipate the use scenarios and ethics of forensic software packages? How do military tribunals decide pilots exercised due diligence before firing on ‘friendly’ forces? And how do lawyers argue a police officer did or didn’t obey the law when using force?

I work with people from around the world, and currently have collaborative projects with researchers based in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan. Broadly speaking, I’m interested in working with interactional sociologists and criminologists who are interested in issues around policing and civilian police oversight, and the impact of socio-technical systems on work practice.

I have secured over $400,000(CAN) of external research funding and grants in the last decade, working with scholars from Cornell University, the University of California Santa Barbara, Oakland University Michigan, Cardiff, Liverpool, and Manchester Universities, Technical University Berlin and Bielefeld University, Keio University Japan, The University of Toronto and Waterloo, as well as researchers working at major technology companies.

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I teach courses on criminological theory and contentious issues in the criminal justice system. I do my best to keep my teaching as practical as possible, especially since I tend to teach a lot of students who plan to go to law school or policy research (typically after doing a post-graduate degree). I work in a lot of real-life examples in my teaching to try to ground theory in current events and criminal circumstance. I want my students to understand the complexity of crime, the political economy of criminal circumstance, and how theories function as tools for trying to reassemble these phenomena that so rarely are subject to my students’ direct experience.

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My research is motivated by a broad concern with democratic accountability for public institutions, including the police. Over the last three decades, we’ve seen increasing efforts to ‘professionalize’ policing, reserving judgment about police conduct to a select few, typically former police officers. The problem with this is police legitimacy is secured by the consent of the populace, meaning that every citizen, every individual has a right to stand up and have their voice heard on what they find (un)acceptable about police conduct, and police services have a right to respond to objections when they occur.

I conduct research with police services, police oversight agencies, and police training institutions, as well as with individuals who have experienced police use-of-force. I want to understand how police services, civilian overseers, and trainers interpret “reasonable” police conduct, and how these interpretations may clash with public expectation. I am interested in speaking with anyone who is interested in democratic civilian oversight of police services, and ensuring that the public interest is served through contemporary policing.

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