With projects grounded in real-world problems of poverty, violence and weak governance, our Lab connects innovative research, interdisciplinary teaching and long-term engagement with practitioners to better understand and inform the implementation of effective policy.

    Policy Overview
  • Policy Overview
  • Policy Engagement

Policy Overview

A key motivating force behind our work is its potential for helping to solve real-world problems. Our research is producing compelling empirical evidence that criminal violence has devastating economic consequences, that it reduces human capital formation, and that it disproportionately harms the poor. We aim to translate this knowledge into action that will improve conditions for victims of violence, poverty and weak governance.

By forming partnerships and sharing the fruits of our research with government agencies, local police, school systems, and civil society organizations in Mexico and Brazil, we are able to contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that improve police practices, generate opportunities for youth at risk, and strengthen communities plagued by organized extortion and violence.

Policy Engagement

We employ a variety of approaches to inform policy, including cooperative agreements with governement agencies and civil society orgnaizations, presentations to policy makers, conferences that bring scholars and practitoners together, networking on a global scale to increase access to experts and new knowledge, and training a new generation of scholars who value action-oriented research. Here are some examples of what we do in the realm of policy.

Police Pacification Project in Rio de Janeiro. We have an ongoing a collaboration agreement with the Military Police (PMERJ) and the Secretary of Security of Rio de Janeiro to conduct a multi-year and multi-method research initiative to better understand the institutional, contextual and individual factors associated with use of lethal force by police officers in Brazil. Working closely with these agencies, we have surveyed more than 5,000 police officers, geo-referenced more than 22,000 violent crime incidents from 2005 to 2013, analyzed and mapped hotspots in the metropolitan area of Rio, conducted focus groups with police officers, carried out a randomized control trialof the use of body-worn cameras in order to reduce excessive use of force in the favelas, and performed a statistical analysis of the consumption of ammunition by Rio police officers, and conducted an impact evaluation of the effects of the Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) on lethal violence. 

Youth at Risk Conference. We convened a conference of scholars and practitoners to shed light on a the problem of youth and criminal violence in Latin America and the U.S., to discuss potential solutions to this growing urban problem, and to share innovative and inspirational initiatives that foster change. The conference focused on activities and programs aimed that provide educational, work, and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth in territories impacted by poverty, criminality and violence. Speakers included activists, community leaders, educators, professionals in international development, policymakers, politicians, scholars. The conference was intended to bring together actors with different backgrounds across sectors, disciplines, and varying social, political and economic contexts to participate and learn from the first-hand experiences, challenges and aspirations of others, with the goal of informing the formulation of effective policies and development strategies to benefit youth in places of violence.    

Collaboration on Police Accountability and Citizen Trust in Mexico. We have established a cooperative agreement with the U.S. State Department and subsidiary collaborations with Mexican law enforcement agencies to gain a better understanding of targeted interventions in the fight against drug-trafficking organizations. We are working to evaluate the so-called “joint operations”  — coordinated efforts involving federal, state and municipal police as well as the Army and the Navy — and other efforts such as crop eradication, drug interdiction and leader arrests to determine the dynamics of violence among states and municipalities. We exchange sensitive and classified data, provide training to Mexican police professionals, and  present our findings to our collaborators in the U.S. and Mexican govenment.