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NIJ's Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science Academics Program


The 2019 application period has closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted an application. NIJ notified all applications on selection results in early July.

On this page find:

Overview of the Program

The Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Academics program offers a unique opportunity for early-career academics to engage with NIJ LEADS Scholars, all of whom are mid-career police officers dedicated to advancing the police profession through science.

This year NIJ is piloting the addition of LEADS Academics to the Scholars program, with the goal of advancing practitioner-led research and promoting sustainable researcher/practitioner partnerships.

The LEADS Scholars program grew out of a desire to support and develop the next generation of law enforcement leadership in America. In 2014, NIJ partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to establish an annual award of 10, three-year scholarships for research-minded law enforcement officers. The program has since grown to 50 women and men officers across the country, who have formed a strong network of individuals committed to using evidence and data to inform law enforcement policy and practice.  This year, the RAND Corporation and the IACP are funded to provide additional support to program participants. 

NIJ LEADS scholars are pioneers in the evidence-based policing movement, and present and publish frequently about their research and findings. LEADS scholars have led research projects to test the effectiveness of automatic license plate readers in California, the impact of stress on officers in Ohio, the effectiveness of various patrol vehicle lighting schemes in Connecticut, how to increase gender parity and female retention in police academies, and many other issues. With support from the LEADS program, scholars have used data to answer empirical research questions on body-worn cameras, GPS monitoring of convicted felons, the development of risk assessment tools, and how to integrate high-quality research and evidence-based practices into police academy curricula.

One of the most important aspects of the LEADS program is the connection between researchers and practitioners. The addition of LEADS Academics to the program this year will strengthen those connections in a number of ways.  LEADS Academics will provide guidance and training to LEADS Scholars regarding research methodology and ethical concerns associated with conducting research. The LEADS Scholars will help the LEADS Academics improve their understanding and skills related to working with law enforcement agencies and practitioners.


LEADS Academics must have been awarded their doctorate within the six (6) years prior to October 1, 2019.  LEADS Academics must have experience working on at least one research project that involved both partnering with a law enforcement agency AND collecting original data from that agency.  LEADS Academics must be university- or college-affiliated, though they are not required to be in tenure-track positions. 

Structure and Expectations

The LEADS Academics program is a three-year commitment.  Activities include:

  • Attendance at the IACP Annual Conference, including:
    • A pre-IACP training and orientation day, in which LEADS Academics will develop and deliver a master class for LEADS Scholars on research issues and methodologies
    • Attendance and participation at the NIJ Saturday Session, “What Works and What Matters in Policing”
    • Participation in the IACP Research Advisory Committee meeting
    • Integration into the soon-to-be launched IACP Research Section
    • Attendance at the IACP Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Awards ceremony
    • Participation in a private roundtable event with NIJ and IACP leadership to explore priorities in policing research
  • Attendance at a two-day LEADS Summer Session, held in or around Washington, DC
  • Collaborative brainstorming events between LEADS scholars and NIJ science staff
  • Opportunities to present research and findings at law enforcement conferences and be published in practitioner-focused journals
  • Participation in NIJ peer reviews

NIJ covers all travel, accommodation, and per diem costs associated with the LEADS Academic program.

This program does not include direct funding to LEADS Academics to support original research. 

Application Process

Deadline: May 31, 2019, 11:59 pm ET

Interested applicants must submit the following materials to [email protected], subject-line: LEADS ACADEMICS.

  • Current CV
  • Letter of support from department chair or other supervisor
  • 2 law enforcement practitioner references and their contact information.
  • Personal essay. Applicants should address the following questions in a 3-page, double-spaced essay (12 pt., Times New Roman font).
    • What is your approach to police/practitioner partnerships, and why are these partnerships so important?  Relatedly, what should the role of police practitioners be in generating policing research?
    • Why do you want to participate in this program and how will this help you achieve your career goals? 
    • What specific skills do you have that would benefit the NIJ LEADS Scholars?  Please include examples.
Date Created: October 3, 2019