Christian R. Peterson

Inducted June 2024

Nominated by Kris Henning and Gregory Stewart, Portland State University; and Heather Perez, Michigan State University


Christian R. Peterson serves as the Police Data Research Manager at the Portland Police Bureau and has over a decade of experience in big data analytics, specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In that role, he oversees vital data and analysis programs, including gun violence data reporting, community engagement programs, and Smart Policing Initiatives, which have led to several recognitions from his agency. Mr. Peterson earned both his BS and master's degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Portland State University and is a National Institute of Justice Law Enforcement Advancing Data Science (LEADS) Scholar.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Peterson is recognized for his track record of leading projects in his agency to develop processes and systems that facilitate analysis, community feedback, and research in the everyday work of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). In 2014, he and researchers from Portland State University (PSU) conducted one of the largest RCTs on hot spot policing in the PPB, in which he developed a new protocol for incorporating the management of patrols into the CAD system and took the lead in managing an extensive community survey associated with the study. During the COVID pandemic, Peterson developed a system for online crime reporting and also surveying victims who used the portal, which facilitated two experiments on increasing victim satisfaction.

Additionally, Portland has experienced one of the largest increases in gun violence across the country, with homicides rising from 14 in 2016 to 101 in 2022. However, the city lacked accurate data for tracking firearm-related crimes. Peterson worked with a team to develop the PPB’s new Shooting Incident website (link below), which helps the city monitor the impact of crime prevention efforts. Further, he worked with Prof. Kris Henning at PSU to implement a survey to assess public sentiments toward gunshot detection technology, which proposed to address the gun crime problem. The survey found significant opposition to the technology, leading the Mayor to not pursue purchasing gun shot detection technology.

Peterson’s efforts to implement a more evidence-based, data-driven approach have shaped the work of others as well. His survey work led him and Henning to develop a Community Survey Toolkit for BJA’s Smart Policing Initiative (link below) to guide law enforcement agencies on soliciting feedback from the community. When the National Institute of Justice (USDOJ) sponsored a Real Time Crime Forecasting Challenge to evaluate the accuracy of geographic crime prediction algorithms, they turned to the PPB and Peterson to supply the data used by all of the teams. With Peterson’s help the PPB has become one of the most transparent agencies in the country when it comes to sharing data with the public (see the Vera Institute’s Police Transparency website, listed below).

Heather Perez, the program director of Project Safe Neighborhoods and Crime Analyst in Residence Training and Technical Assistance praises Peterson’s efforts: “Empowering law enforcement and the communities that they serve is what drives Christian. As a leader in the Strategic Services Division of the Portland Police Bureau, he has introduced streamlined processes, tools, and methodologies to help agencies implement effective strategies that align with community concerns and empower agencies to continuously grow and sustain evidence-based practices.” Greg Stewart, a member of the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame, worked closely with Peterson in the PPB, noting that “A testament to Christian’s influence in the organization was the Bureau’s decision to civilianize its Strategic Services Division completely. The organization’s trust in him and the other analysts was sufficient to overcome a long-time reluctance to entrust key roles to civilian (as opposed to sworn) personnel. This has improved the PPB and helped institutionalize a willingness to look beyond sworn police personnel for mission-critical positions.”

Statement from Inductee:


Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Henning, K., & Peterson, C. (2018). Introduction to community surveys in law enforcement (website). Smart Policing Initiative Toolkit, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
  • Henning, K., Carmony, J., & Peterson, C., (under review). Public support for gunshot detection technology.
  • Henning, K., Jones, J. & Peterson, C. (2017). Community attitudes regarding public safety in Portland’s Parkrose neighborhood. Criminal Justice Policy and Research Institute, Portland State University.
  • Henning, K., Kahn, K., Wuschke, K., Peterson, C., & Yakots, S. (In Press). Online crime reporting: A new threat to police legitimacy? European Journal of Policing Studies.
  • Henning, K., Kahn, K., Wuschke, K., Yakots, S., & Peterson, C., (2022). Portland’s 2018-2022 Community-Based Crime Reduction Grant (final report). Portland, Oregon: Criminal Justice Policy & Research Institute, Portland State University.
  • Henning, K., Peterson, C., Stewart, S., Kahn, K., Labissiere, Y., Renauer, B., Mitchell, R., & Sothern, S. (2022). Getting proactive with police proactivity: The benefits of computer-aided dispatch for directing police resources to areas of need. Policing: A Journal of Policy & Practice, 16(3). 427-442.
  • Henning, K., Stewart, G., Kahn, K., Peterson, C., Renauer, B., Mitchell, R., Labissiere, Y., & Sothern, S. (2017). Portland’s Neighborhood Involvement Locations Project (final report). Portland, Oregon: Criminal Justice Policy & Research Institute, Portland State University.
  • Henning, K., Stewart, G., & Peterson, C. (2012). Criminal history analysis with suspects arrested at Portland State University. PSU Campus Public Safety Office.
  • Henning, K., Yakots, S., Peterson, C., Kahn, K., & Wuschke, K. (April, 2023). The impact of online crime reporting on community trust. Police Chief Magazine.
  • Kahn, K., Henning, K., Stewart, S. Renauer, B., Peterson, C., Mitchell, R., Labissiere, Y., & Sothern, S. (2019). Public response to community engagement patrols in high crime areas. Policing: An International Journal, 42(5), 917-930.
  • Stewart, G., Henning, K., & Peterson, C. (2017). Attitudes regarding public safety in Portland’s Lloyd district. Criminal Justice Policy and Research Institute, Portland State University.