Lawrence Sherman

Distinguished University Professor

Distinguished University Professor Lawrence W. Sherman holds a joint appointment with the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology, where he is currently on leave serving as the Director of the Institute and Wolfson Professor of Criminology. Sherman’s research has advanced the application of criminology to public policy in both research literature and in partnerships with police in over 30 countries, currently including Australia, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden and the UK. His many publications have affected public policies in a variety of ways, including

  • The US Supreme Court’s decision restricting police powers to shoot people cited Sherman’s research predicting (correctly) that banning gunshots at fleeing suspects would not cause increases in crime, or in violence against police officers
  • Massive changes in police patrol patterns resulted from Sherman’s 1987 finding that 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.
  • The effects of arrest for non-injurious domestic assault 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.
  • His award-winning follow-up (with Maryland doctoral student Heather Harris) of the Milwaukee domestic violence experiment found that arrest of abusers doubled the rate of premature death from all causes among African-American victims, further challenging the fairness of mandatory arrest policies.
  • With his colleague Heather Strang, Sherman discovered that restorative justice conferences between violent offenders and their victims reduced repeat offending across nine out of ten restorative justice experiments they designed across a wide range of offence types, offenders, and points in the criminal justice system.

Sherman currently serves as Honorary President of the Society of Evidence-Based Policing, which has 2,000 members in 35 countries, primarily serving police officers who are interested in research, and as Chief Executive of the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-Based Policing. He past President of the American Society of Criminology, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Academy of Experimental Criminology, the International Society of Criminology, and past Chair of the Division of Experimental Criminology of ASC. Since 2006 he has served as Co-Chair of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology Jury. From 2015-16 he will resume teaching courses on policing and experimental criminology at Maryland.

His recent awards include two honorary Doctorates: University of Stockholm (PhD in social science, 2013) and Denison University (Doctor of Humane Letters, 2014). He won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal from the Royal Society of Arts in London in 2011, the Beccaria Medal of the German Society of Criminology in 2009, and a Distinguished Achievement Award from George Mason University in 2013. In 2014 the Division of Experimental Criminology of ASC selected his JEC article on the death rates of domestic abuse victims in the Milwaukee arrest experiment (co-authored with then-UMD PhD student Heather Harris) for the Outstanding Field Experiment of the year. In 2013 he was appointed a Director of the UK’s College of Policing, which sets all standards for police practices, education and promotion for England and Wales and licenses police to serve as Chief Constables.  

Areas of Interest:
  • Experimental Criminology, Defiance Theory, Evidence-Based Policy
  • BA Magna Cum Laude, Denison University
  • MA University of Chicago
  • PhD Yale University
  • Diploma Criminology, Cambridge University
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus File
CCJS340 Policing Spring 2017 Syllabus
CCJS601 Policing Spring 2017 Syllabus
CCJS418E Seminar in Criminology and Criminal Justice; Evidence Based Policing Spring 2016 Syllabus
CCJS667 Innovations in Policing: Programs, Policies and Research Spring 2016 Syllabus
  • Lawrence Sherman
2151 LeFrak Hall
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Office Hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 to 1:30pm; Wednesdays 1:00 to 2:00pm