2007 Archive

BCCJ Appoints Two Prominent Academics to its Research Team

With the recent appointment of crime experts Anthony Braga and Tracey Meares, the challenge of crafting strategies to combat the soaring rate of urban violence just got a bit easier for the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (BCCJ).

"Anthony and Tracey are extremely well-respected academics who have had great success working with practitioners from both law enforcement and the community to reduce street violence," says BCCJ Executive Director David Onek. "The Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice is thrilled to bring them on board."

By adding Braga as a Senior Research Associate and Meares as a Senior Research Fellow, BCCJ will further its mission to research, develop, and advance innovative criminal and juvenile justice law and policy approaches through collaboration with scholars, policymakers, and practitioners.

Braga, recently named Chief Policy Advisor to the Boston Police Commissioner, is a Senior Research Associate at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. His research focuses on developing problem-oriented policing strategies to prevent gang violence, disrupt illegal gun markets, and address violent crime hot spots. Braga has served as a consultant on these issues to police departments in numerous cities—including Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis and Baltimore—as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He was a Visiting Fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Justice and teaches in the Police Executive Research Forum's Senior Management Institute for Police.

"Anthony has been a critical component of every strategy we've put in place in recent years," says Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, whose department has worked with Braga since the 1990s. "He has developed effective strategies to intervene in gang feuds, and his work has had a huge effect on reducing our youth homicide rates."

Meares is a professor at Yale Law School—the first African-American female tenured professor in its history. Previously, she was the Max Pam Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at the University of Chicago, where she joined the law faculty in 1994. Meares is also a Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. She has worked closely with law enforcement and community groups in Chicago as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a national program to reduce gun violence. Her research for this program focuses on the social marketing of deterrence and social norms messages through offender notification meetings.

"Tracey has been a blessing to our operation," says Eugene Williams, Chief of the Organized Crime Division for the Chicago Police Department. "She makes sure all considerations of the neighborhood are put at the forefront, not just law enforcement's. Everything that we do in Project Safe Neighborhoods is vetted through her, and she has been instrumental in Chicago having one of the most effective initiatives in the country."

Braga and Meares will assist BCCJ's intensive partnership with city officials and community agencies in San Francisco to combat street violence in selected neighborhoods, and will help BCCJ explore partnerships with other Bay Area cities in the months ahead. Braga, Meares and Onek are already hard at work researching and writing a paper on the nature of street violence in San Francisco, lessons learned from other jurisdictions about reducing street violence, and the current partnership-based violence reduction efforts in San Francisco. Onek will present the paper at a community policing conference that BCCJ is co-hosting with the Australian National University in December in Canberra, Australia.

Dean Christopher Edley says that the appointments of Braga and Meares "are a real coup for Boalt and a testament to the tremendous excitement that the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice has generated in the field under David Onek's leadership."