Jeremiah Johnson

Inducted June 2022

Nominated by Renee Mitchell, Jason Potts, Rachel Tolber, Maureen McGough and Invonne Roman, American Society of Evidence-Based Policing


Dr. Jeremiah Johnson is a Patrol Sergeant in the Darien, Connecticut, Police Department, where he has served since 2002. During his policing career, Sgt. Johnson has worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, accreditation manager, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, and acting lieutenant. He is an alumnus of the National Institute of Justice LEADS Scholar program (Class of 2016) and a Policing Fellow with the National Policing Institute. For the last decade, Sgt. Johnson has taught several undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology, criminal justice, police administration, leadership, public administration, research methods, statistics, performance measurement, and ethics of justice administration at the University of New Haven, Western Connecticut State University, Loyola University, New Orleans, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York, an M.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, an M.S. in Justice Administration from Western Connecticut State University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Geneva College. Sgt. Johnson also served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was honorably discharged in 2004.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Dr. Johnson is a consummate advocate for evidence-based policing and practitioner-led research in both his policing practice as well as his academic pursuits. In the Darien Police Department, he has implemented and championed several evidence-based strategies. Most notably, in 2017, he led his agency’s first randomized controlled trial of enhanced patrol vehicle lighting for crime prevention, which has been replicated in at least nine different jurisdictions across Canada and the United States. This study, which is described in Translational Criminology Magazine (Fall, 2019 issue), examined the impacts of increasing the visibility of patrol units on the night shift using vehicle lights. Although the tactic is not new, Dr. Johnson was the first to examine the effectiveness of this low-cost policing approach using rigorous scientific methods. Collaborating with BetaGov researchers, Sgt. Johnson randomized the intervention by shift, using a similar approach as several body-worn camera experiments conducted by Barak Ariel at Cambridge. After running the experiment for four months, he found non-significant results, but all in the right direction (reduction of auto burglaries by 16%, auto theft by 44%, and a decline in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian and traffic stops, and arrests).

Cynthia Lum, Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy and founding editor of Translational Criminology Magazine, notes that “Sgt. Johnson’s efforts on his project reflect exactly what evidence-based policing is about. Johnson had a relevant question about a common patrol practice, where it was unclear whether that tactic was effective. He set out to test the intervention under real conditions, partnering with researchers, neighboring agencies, and other officers to accomplish the evaluation. He used rigorous methods to try and determine under what conditions such an intervention could work. And, he encouraged and helped with the replication of the experiment in other agencies. He is an excellent model for how first-line supervisors should approach choices about deployment strategies from an evidence-based perspective. Sgt. Johnson also has made an important contribution to the evidence base with his work. We only have a handful of studies testing patrol and investigative strategies in smaller, suburban, or rural agencies. His work adds to this growing research base.”

In addition to his work and accolades from his agency, Dr. Johnson has made significant efforts to spread evidence-based policing into the policing and academic worlds. He has accomplished this through his academic and practice-based instruction of the next generation of police officers and researchers using his evidence-based perspective. Recognizing his academic accomplishments, he was appointed a “Practitioner in Residence” at the University of New Haven. Additionally, he has recently connected discrete evidence-based policing movements across the globe through the development of a Twitter bot (@EBPbot) that has retweeted almost 1,000 articles and comments about evidence-based policing.

“Every Hall of Fame Member is unique in their contributions and approach to evidence-based policing,” stated Lum. “What stands out about Jeremiah is that he balances the practice of evidence-based policing in his agency (including the testing and tracking of interventions) with advancing the field from his academic work. I may be wrong, but he is likely one of the few, if not only, Hall of Fame members who teaches statistics and research methods at the University level to future criminologists and police officers. This is impressive, not only on its face, but because he lends a unique real-world academic and practitioner perspective to doing research. In this way, he is also contributing to improving the quality of supply of the evidence.”

As a testament to his outreach, Sgt. Johnson was nominated by his colleagues from the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing, several of whom are members of the Hall of Fame. Of their colleague, they praise Sgt. Johnson for being “a vanguard of the evidence-based policing movement.”

Statement from Inductee:

I began my policing career as a committed practitioner. Hailing from a family which lacked any employment nexus to the law enforcement field, I scanned my agency for exemplars to emulate. The ambiguity of the modern police role (Kelling & Pate, 1975) paired with a sizable quantity of unallocated time led me to embrace the architype of a proactive “enforcer” (Muir, 1977). I filled my shifts with arbitrary forms of self-selected enforcement activity which earned me formal and informal recognition within my agency. Yet today I am left to wonder whether my well-intentioned interventions had any meaningful impact upon crime or public safety.

Perhaps all cops wax philosophical as the arc of their career approaches its zenith, yet my own philosophical shift came mid-career, thanks to the Doctoral Program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College and the NIJ LEADS Scholars Program. These transformative institutions challenged my presuppositions about the nature of crime and the efficacy of traditional police practices. At worst, my actions at the front-end of the criminal justice system may have caused or contributed to social harm. However, it is far more likely that my actions simultaneously led to both positive and negative outcomes for individuals and communities. I will likely never know the extent of benefits and harms because too often our systems fail to measure what matters. Even when data are collected and analyzed, such information has limited value for agencies that ignore police science. We cannot rightly call ourselves a profession if we fail to learn the body of knowledge about policing; if we fail to follow it, we are guilty of malpractice. Unscientific policing truly is unethical policing (Johnson, 2017).

In the 1999 film The Matrix, the protagonist Neo learns that he, like all people, was “born into bondage…. A prison for your mind” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). The sage, Morphius, presents Neo with an opportunity in the form of two different pills. Neo can take a blue pill and remain in the pseudo reality which he has always known, or he can take a red pill which will allow him to see things as they really are. Morpheus warns Neo that it is not possible to turn back from this decision. Taking the blue pill allows one to “believe whatever you want to believe” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). Those who take the red pill get to plumb the depths of Wonderland’s rabbit hole.

It is psychologically comfortable to “blue-pill” a career in policing, uncritically accepting information relayed by academy instructors, FTOs, peer officers, and the brass. It is understandable why this happens, especially when anecdotal experiences on the street seem to align with what has been taught. An enjoyable and successful career awaits those who embrace traditional approaches to crime, for even failure may be accepted as long as it is done conventionally.

Evidence-based policing is the red pill which leads curious cops like me to tumble down the rabbit hole. To “red pill” policing means that anecdotes and war stories are no longer sufficient or appropriate for operational decision making. It means that not only must tradition be questioned, but data and evidence are followed even to the point of heterodoxy. Such a commitment is not without costs and may stymie career advancement. After all, data-savvy football coaches who favor statistically advantageous 4th down conversion attempts and onside kicks have only recently made it to the collegiate level and have yet to be welcomed into the NFL.

It is incredibly encouraging to witness a nascent evidence-based policing movement take root among a subset of policing practitioners in the United States. Evidence-based policing has the potential to transform every facet of policing and solve the most intractable problems plaguing our field. At the fore of this revolutionary paradigm shift is the American Society of Evidence Based Policing (I owe a debt of gratitude to the ASEBP Board for nominating me for induction to the CEBCP Hall of Fame). Yet as this organization and the broader movement grow, I harbor concerns that law enforcement agencies will adopt evidence-based policing in ways that are superficial, uneven, and ineffectual. This pattern of uptake was previously observed in American policing several decades ago when community policing became “the new rhetoric” without either the public or the police fully understanding the true meaning of the term (Maguire, Kuhns, Uchida, & Cox, 1997, p. 370).

The same goes for evidence-based policing which lacks a universally agreed upon definition. Rather than advance a specific definition, it may benefit policing practitioners more for me to delineate what evidence-based policing is not. First, not all evidence is created equal. There is a hierarchy of evidence which means that data-driven strategies and even those that are evidence-informed cannot rightly be called evidence-based. Secondly, seeking empirical evidence to justify favored crime strategies is not an appropriate heuristic for those seeking to do evidence-based policing. Finally, policing practitioners must understand that a single study, no matter how rigorous, represents a starting point and not the finish line.

As I approach the end of a twenty-year career with my agency, I do so not just as a committed practitioner. Rather, I see myself as a pracademic— one who seeks to embed academic research, experimentation, and evaluation into everything that a police organization does. It is my sincere hope that the future of policing belongs to the pracademics, scholarly police officers who take full ownership of police science (Weisburd & Neyroud, 2011).


Johnson, J. P (2017, November 17). A Hippocratic oath for policing. On Policing

Kelling, G., & Pate, M. A. (1975). The Person-role fit in policing: The current knowledge and future research. In Job stress and the Police Officer: Identifying Stress Reduction Techniques. Proceedings from Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, May 8-9, 1975. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Maguire, E. R., Kuhns, J. B., Uchida, C. D., & Cox, S. M. (1997). Patterns of Community Policing in Nonurban America. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 34(3), 368-394.

Muir, W. K., Jr. (1977) Police: Streetcorner politicians. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wachowski, L. & Wachowski A. (Directors). (1999). The Matrix [Film]. Warner Bros.

Weisburd, D. & Neyroud. (2011, January). Police Science: Toward a New Paradigm. New Perspectives in Policing.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects: