University of Scranton Professor Awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant

Aug 2, 2016

University of Scranton professor Michael J. Jenkins, Ph.D., is headed to London where he will go on the beat with the city’s Metropolitan Police Service to study how they police their communities and maintain order.

Dr. Jenkins, an associate professor in the department of sociology, criminal justice, and criminology, was awarded a coveted Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant this year. His four-month research project will get underway in January 2017.

Dr. Jenkins’ previous research has focused on the real-world applications and outcomes of the “broken windows theory,” a bedrock theory in the field of criminology that has revealed how the prevention of small crimes by police (i.e., public drunkenness and vandalism) mitigates more serious crimes from happening.

“The theory states that when you have these signs of physical and social disorder it sends a signal to other would-be criminals that it is OK to offend here,” Dr. Jenkins said.

A simple understanding of the theory can be derived from the name of the theory itself: if the homes in a community have been vandalized, their windows smashed, for example, this disorder can foster more disorder, including the occurrence of serious criminal offenses especially if low-level crimes are continually left unpunished. For his Ph.D. from the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, Dr. Jenkins completed his dissertation under the mentorship of George L. Kelling, Ph.D., who introduced, developed and advocates for the theory.

For his Fulbright research in London, Dr. Jenkins will observe the broken windows theory in action while on the beat with the Metropolitan Police Service, specifically examining how they respond to physical and social disorder and how they handle small crime investigations. He will also examine how force is applied, to what degree and if it is even applied at all, during stops and investigations of low-level crimes.

In light of recent high-profile police-citizen interactions in the U.S., Dr. Jenkins said broken windows theory has been distorted by the national media. In July, he defended the theory in an op-ed published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In London, Dr. Jenkins will assess similarities and differences in U.K. and U.S. police tactics, whether lessons can be learned in the application of broken windows theory, as well as officer and community safety and engagement.

Ultimately, he hopes to gain an “understanding of the (London) Metropolitan Police Service within the context of how we police in the United States,” he said, and to work toward a better understanding of how police can minimize force, maximize safety and prevent a spiral of disorder.

His Fulbright research will also include interviews with police trainers and reviewing the department’s records. These findings will complement a forthcoming book publication, “Policing the World: The Practice of International and Transnational Policing.” His research in London will be conducted in association with, and with the assistance of, the Institute for Global City Policing at University College London.

Dr. Jenkins, who is also a Scranton alumnus, earning his bachelor’s degree in 2006 as a double major in criminal justice and philosophy, co-authored two previously published books: “Police Leaders in the New Community Problem-Solving Era,” with co-author John DeCarlo, Ph.D., and a foreword by Dr. Kelling, and “Labor Unions, Management Innovation and Organizational Change in Police Departments.”

His research has been cited in the FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin, Journal of the International Association of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analysts, American Journal of Criminal Justice, Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology, and Encyclopedia of Race and Crime.

Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. It is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The University of Scranton has been recognized among the nation’s top producers of U.S. Fulbright students. Dozens of its faculty members have also received postdoctoral Fulbright awards.

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