Hubert Williams

Inducted October 2010

Nominated by David Cole, Georgetown University


Hubert Williams is president of the Police Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting innovation and the improvement of policing. Since 1985, Williams has directed all foundation operations and is a voting member of the board of directors. He has been a leading advocate for professional standards and uniform practices in policing, and has presided over the design and implementation of scientific field experiments that are on the leading edge of the development of modern police policy and procedure.

Williams has over thirty years of experience in policing, including eleven years as police director in Newark, New Jersey. The scope of Williams’ experience and influence on police policy is considerable. Under Williams’ leadership, the Newark Police Department served as the laboratory for two Police Foundation studies seminal to the evolution of community policing—the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment and the NIJ-fundedfear reduction experiment.

His experience in the civil disorders in Newark and his leadership as president of the Police Foundation prompted the City of Los Angeles to appoint him as deputy special advisor to the L.A. Police Commission in the evaluation of the police response to the civil disorder in that city in 1992. Former FBI and CIA director William Webster served as special advisor. Webster and Williams led a team of over 100 volunteer attorneys in the production of a report recommending strategies to prevent future disorders and, should they occur despite appropriate planning, how to respond quickly and effectively. Recognizing that other cities could encounter the same problems as L.A., Williams established the National Center for the Study of Police and Civil Disorder. The center provides research and technical support to police departments attempting to plan for, prevent, and effectively respond to the threat of civil unrest.  Under Williams’ leadership, the Police Foundation developed The RAMS™ (Risk Analysis Management System), a comprehensive early-warning and intervention system to ensure proper training, accountability, quality service, and community satisfaction with police services.

He is the founding president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and formerly served as president of the National Association of Police Community Relations Officers. Williams is a lifetime member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and a founding member of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF); he is the recipient of PERF’s first leadership award.

Williams currently sits on the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Southwest Border Task Force and the advisory boards of The Constitution Project, the National Committee on the Right to Counsel, the National Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy, and Drug Strategies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on Civil Liberties and National Security, and served on the U.S. Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (The Gilmore Commission). Williams was appointed by Jamaica’s Minister of National Security to the Jamaica Constabulary Force Review Panel. He also served as chairman of the Advisory Meeting of Experts on the development of the U.N. Drug Law Enforcement Training Manual and was appointed by Secretary of State James Baker as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

Williams earned a bachelor of science degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a juris doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law. Williams was a research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center for Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

As police director in Newark for eleven years, he commanded the largest police department in the State of New Jersey during a time in which inner-city deterioration, civil unrest, and drug-related crime plagued most of the nation’s urban areas. Williams brought to the job the integrity, tough-mindedness, and intellect that had propelled him through the ranks from patrol officer to director in twelve years. Under Williams’ leadership, the Newark Police Department served as the laboratory for two Police Foundation studies seminal to the evolution of community policing—The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment and the NIJ-funded fear reduction experiment (see references to these studies below). These studies, which pointed to the advantages of police presence on foot in the community, helped inform his agency’s practices and led the police department to adjust its assignments and staffing to reduce fear of crime.

Since he has been President of the Police Foundation, Mr. Williams has been an outspoken exponent of evidence-based policing, and has negotiated with and cajoled police departments across the country to participate in studies of policing practices, from responses to domestic abuse and drug trafficking, to the effects of 10 and 12 hour shifts on performance and of programs like Compstat and “hot spots” policing. In each instance, the Police Foundation has conducted rigorous studies, made its findings publicly available, and worked with police departments to reform their policies in response to their findings.

Statement from Inductee:

This paper reviews the origins of evidence-based policing. It highlights the contributions and risks taken by police chiefs who opened up their departments to experimental research at a time when policing was a closed society and outside involvement was viewed as interference. Police officials were particularly skeptical of academics who they believed wanted to obtain police data and information for research purposes so they could then promote themselves as experts in a field in which they had no experience. It was a common view among police administrators and managers that they, like doctors, engineers, and lawyers, were the experts in the field of public safety, the boots on the ground who put their lives on the line every day to protect the public, and they neither required nor desired outsiders who knew little, if anything, about their work to tell them how to do their jobs.

The sensitivity of the police toward outside involvement constituted a major barrier to the professional development of the police because it inhibited the introduction of specialized skills and expertise in important areas such as research methodology, statistics, and data analysis, in which the police needed support but lacked in-house expertise or experience. The introduction of experimental research into policing by the Police Foundation was a major factor in breaking down these barriers and opening the door for criminologists to become actively involved with practitioners in empirical research and the assessment and analysis of data and information to find evidence-based solutions for the problems impacting policing and public safety.



Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura, Essex County (NJ):

During the early stages of my long career in law enforcement, I had the unique opportunity and distinct privilege to work for former Newark, New Jersey Police Director Hubert Williams. Throughout his distinguished career, now President Hubert Williams of the Police Foundation has strenuously and consistently promoted scientific efforts to improve all aspects of policing.

Williams’s prescient foresight was not always mainstream thinking at the time but he vigorously fought the fierce resistance of the entrenched establishment and ultimately his ideas, his lobbying efforts, and his hard work thrust us into the modern era of police work.

Hubert Williams has been called a maverick, a pioneer, and an innovator. And he is all of these things and more. He embraced and facilitated the scientific study of police practices, foot patrol, and fear reduction, despite great pressures and dwindling resources. With Williams as the catalyst, the technological and scientific doors have been kicked open, and advances in research and policy are now the staple of the modern police department. Hubert Williams is indeed a most worthy selection to the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Amendola, K. Weisburd, D. Hamilton, E. Jones, G., Slipka, M. Shane, & Ortiz. (2010). The impact of law enforcement shift practices and extra-duty employment on various health, safety, performance, and quality of life factors (in progress)
  • Davis, R. C., Weisburd, D., & Hamilton, E. (2007). Preventing repeat incidents of family abuse: A randomized field trial of a second responder program in Redlands, CA. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. (Available here)
  • Pate, A. M., & Hamilton, E. E. (1992). Spouse abuse research raises new questions about police response to domestic violence. Washington, DC: Police Foundation. (Available here)
  • Pate, A. M, Lavrakas, P. J., Wycoff, M. A., Skogan, W. G., & Sherman, L. W. (1986). Reducing fear of crime in Houston and Newark: A summary report. Washington, DC: Police Foundation. (Available here)
  • Police Foundation. (1981). The Newark foot patrol experiment. Washington, DC: Author.  (Summary available here)
  • Weisburd, D., Wyckoff, L. A., Ready, J., Eck, J. E., Hinkle, J. C., & Gajewski, F. (2004). Does Crime Just Move Around the Corner? A Study of Displacement and Diffusion in Jersey City, NJ. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. (Available here)
  • Williams, H., & Murphy, P. V. (1990). The evolving strategy of police: A minority view. Perspective on Policing. Harvard Executive Session on Policing. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice (Available here).
  • Williams, H., & Pate, A. M. (1988). Returning to first principles: Reducing the fear of crime in Newark. Crime and Delinquency, 33(1), 53-70.