Karin Schmerler

Inducted June 2019

Nominated by James “Chip” Coldren and Julie Wartell, CNA Institute for Public Research


Karin Schmerler served for nearly 18 years with the Chula Vista (California) Police Department as its Senior Public Safety Analyst, and recently retired in 2018. She has also served as acting and deputy assistant director of the Program/Policy Support and Evaluation Division of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (U.S. Department of Justice) and as a research associate at the Police Executive Research Forum. She is twice the recipient of the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing and the Bright Idea Award from the Harvard Kennedy School Innovations in Government Program. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Karin Schmerler is one of the nation’s premier police analysts and is recognized for her extensive contributions to advancing problem-solving approaches in the field. In the Chula Vista Police Department she supported and coordinated its Bureau of Justice Assistance Strategies for Policing Innovation (SPI) initiative, focused on reducing repeat domestic violence calls and crime. Using a problem-oriented policing framework she has carried out in-depth analysis of domestic violence, was central to the coordination of the department’s response which included working with internal and external stakeholders, and also collaborated with researchers to ensure that quasi-experimental impact evaluations of her agency’s efforts were undertaken. The Chula Vista Domestic Violence SPI initiative resulted in a 24% decline in domestic violence crime. After retiring, she continued her efforts as a program coordinator for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, where she manages its 2017 Innovations in Prosecution Solutions project to reduce repeat domestic violence through focused deterrence efforts.

Ms. Schmerler’s efforts on SPI are only one example of her long-term commitment to problem-oriented policing both in Chula Vista and nationally. Over the years she has provided CVPD with high-quality and insightful research and analysis for a variety of crime prevention initiatives — including a project that reduced motel crime by 70% and is included in the EBP Matrix — and has been recognized by the police department for her work, winning two department commendations. Prior to her efforts in Chula Vista, she served as a social science analyst at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services where she helped oversee the inception of guides for law enforcement problem-solving efforts. She is especially known for her Problem-Oriented Policing Guide on curbing nuisance and disorder at high crime motels, which has been used by agencies around the world. She has also contributed to guides for law enforcement analysts through her efforts with the International Association of Crime Analysts and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Schmerler, Karin, with J. Wartell and D. Weisel, “Solving Crime and Disorder Problems Through Applied Research,” Exploring Crime Analysis: Readings on Essential Skills (Third Edition), Overland Park, KS: IACA Press, 2017.
  • Bichler, Gisela, Karin Schmerler, and Janet Enriquez. (2013). Curbing nuisance motels: An evaluation of police as place regulators. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 36(2), 437-462.
  • Schmerler, Karin. (2005). Disorder at Budget Motels. Problem-Oriented Policing Guide No. 30. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • Schmerler, Karin and Mary Velasco. (2002). Primary data collection: A problem-solving necessity. In Bair, S., Boba, R., Fritz, N., Helms, D., and Hick, S. (eds.) Advanced Crime Mapping Topics: Results of the First Invitational Advanced Crime Mapping Topics Symposium. Denver, CO: NLECTC, Rocky Mountain Region, University of Denver.
  • Schmerler, Karin, Matt Perkins, Scott Philips, Tammy Rinehart, and Meg Townsend. (1998, 2011). Problem-Solving Tips: A Guide to Reducing Crime and Disorder Through Problem-Solving Partnerships, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.