Criminal Justice Department Research Projects

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
April 13, 2017

Update 4/19/17: 

The Final Report of the Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plans evaluation and the results of the 2015 and 2016 Seattle Public Safety Survey are now available on the SPD Blotter and MCPP website.

Through the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, Seattle University’s Criminal Justice Department conducts primary research, including data collection and analysis, program evaluation, and collaborative research with local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies.

“We have three research projects in place now that have brought external funding to the Department for paid research assistantships,” says Department Chair Jackie Helfgott, PhD and one of the principal investigators on the projects. “Both undergraduate and graduate students participate in this research.”

Criminal Justice graduates, students and faculty

Designed to address the distinctive needs of individual communities, Seattle Police Micro-Community Policing Plans (MCPP) collect direct feedback on perceptions of crime and public safety in each community. Specific plans are developed to create a unique, community-owned approach, bringing together community engagement, crime data and police services.

Initially a two-year pilot project funded by a COPS grant to the Seattle Police Foundation that was extended  by the City of Seattle, it has paid for five graduate and one undergraduate research assistants for the two-year pilot; the department just received a City of Seattle grant to extend the project for a third year. Dr. Helgott’s co-investigator for the project is Dr. Will Parkin, PhD.

Criminal Justice graduate Josh McLeodMaster in Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) students who have worked on the project are Karmen Schuur, Matt Thomas, Grace Goodwin, Zhanna Kachurina, Chase Yap, Jennifer Burbridge, Jessica Chandler, Shannon Ro, and Brooke Bray. Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (BACJ) student Joseph Singer also participated. Once this first group graduates in June, joining the project will be MACJ students Matthew Todd, Michael Sowby, Susan Nembhard, Puao Savusa, and Mon-Cherie Barnes, and BACJ student Alexa Gross.

The Seattle Women’s Reentry Evaluation is a partnership with Seattle Police Department and Washington State Department of Corrections, funded by a three-year Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Change Act Grant.  Drs. Helfgott and Elaine Gunnison, with research assistants MACJ/JD student Tia Squires (MACJ/JD,) Kidst Messelu (MACJ,) and Nadine Guyo (BACJ) are in the second year of data collection. The study will follow women released from the Washington Corrections Center for Women for three years post-release.

Seattle is one of six sites nationwide selected to join New York as part of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Misdemeanor Justice Network. This is an important and exciting project funded by a 3.25-million, 3-year grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation that examines criminal justice response to lower-level offenses. Drs. Helfgott and Parkin are partnering with the Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Attorney’s Office, the City of Seattle Office of City Auditor, Municipal Court of Seattle, King County Prosecutor’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention for this three year research collaboration. The other five sites are  Los Angeles, CA; Toledo, OH; Durham, NC; Prince George’s County, MD; and St. Louis, MO.  Two research assistant positions (undergraduate and graduate) will be funded for this project.


Criminal Justice graduate Matt ThomasStudents working on these grants and several other SU CJ students have recently been hired by the Seattle Police Department. Jennifer Burbridge is now the Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator, Matt Thomas and
Josh McLeod were hired as police officers, Todd Hoagland, Gloria Lara, and Karmen Schuur joined the department as Data Driven Crime analysts, and the others were all hired as paid research assistants and Interns. Both Jessica Chandler, Joey Singer are in the final stages of the application process to be police officers.

More information about the department’s research projects is available on the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice website. To receive regular updates from the Criminal Justice Department, subscribe to the newsletter.