Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Distinguished University Professor Lawrence W. Sherman is one of the most cited crime and justice scholars in the world. For more than 3 decades, Sherman’s research has advanced the field in a number of areas. Among his more notable findings:
- restricting police powers to shoot people was not followed by any increases in crime, or in violence against police officers, this evidence was later cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision to restrict police powers to kill across the US.
- over half of all reported crime and disorder occurred at just 3% of the property addresses in a major city, a finding that has since been consistently replicated in other cities. He showed that that exactly where and when crime will occur is far more predictable than anyone had previously thought, thus laying the theoretical and empirical basis for what is now called "hot spots policing," now widely practiced from New York to Sydney.
- homicides, shootings and other gun crimes could be reduced by intensified but lawful use of police stop and search powers in hot spots of gun crime, a finding that has now been replicated in six out of six independent re-tests by other scholars. This research helped prompt a major change in police practice in the US that was followed by a substantial reduction in the US homicide rate.
- arrest has contradictory effects on different kinds of domestic violence offenders, causing less violence among employed men but doubling the frequency of violence among men without jobs. This finding has also been replicated by independent scientists, and is now the basis for some women's advocates to recommend abandoning mandatory arrest policies for non-injurious domestic assault.
- with his colleague David Weisburd, he demonstrated that doubling or tripling the frequency of police patrols in crime hot spots could reduce street crime by two-thirds. This discovery has been replicated by other scholars as well.
- with his colleague Heather Strang, he discovered that restorative justice conferences between violent offenders and their victims could reduce repeat offending by half and that ten out of twelve of the restorative justice experiments they designed with victims present substantially reduced the overall two- year frequency of repeat convictions or arrests, across a wide range of offence types, offenders, and points in the criminal justice system.
In addition to his research accomplishments, Professor Sherman developed the idea of experimental criminology (he taught the first course ever on this topic previously at UMD). Experimental Criminology is now a Division of the American Society of Criminology with almost 200 members, its own journal, and an international honorary Academy (AEC). Sherman is the first elected chair of the DEC of ASC. He also invented the concept "evidence-based policing," modeled on evidence-based medicine, which is the basis of the large international Police Executive Programme he currently directs at Cambridge University. As a faculty member in CCJS, Sherman plans to reinforce the Cambridge Programme with a UMCP counterpart primarily for US police executives. He will be teaching courses on policing and experimental criminology.
- Criminal Careers, Criminological Theory, Quantitative Methods, Research Methods