Criminology, Law and Society
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

James Willis

James Willis

James Willis

Associate Professor

Police organizations, police reform, police decision making, police technology, punishment in an historical context

Professor Willis' interests include police organizational reform, police discretion, police technology, and penal history.  With colleagues, his current projects include an examination of the effects of different technologies on police organizations (including body-worn cameras) and an assessment of the quality of police decision-making at the street-level.  Along with his co-authors, in 2008 he was awarded the Law and Society Association’s article prize for research that used different theoretical perspectives to explain Compstat’s implementation in three police departments.  In 2011, he was the recipient of a George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award.

Current Research

2014 – present. Co-principal investigator (Christopher Koper and Cynthia Lum, P.I.s) Evaluating the Crime Control and Cost-Benefit Effectiveness of License Plate Recognition (LPR) Technology in Patrol and Investigations. National Institute of Justice.

2011-2014.  Co-principal investigator (Chris Koper, P.I., and Cynthia Lum, co-P.I.).  Realizing the Potential of Technology for Policing: A Multi-Site Study of the Social, Organizational, and Behavioral Aspects of Implementing Policing Technologies. National Institute of Justice.

2010-2014.  Co-Principal Investigator (Stephen Mastrofski, P.I.).  Measuring the Craft of Law Enforcement:  What Is Good Policing?  Center for Justice Leadership and Management, George Mason University.

Selected Publications

Willis, James J. and Stephen D. Mastrofski. (2017). “Contrôler l’autonomie policière par un équilibre des forces: Le cas des caméras portées” ("Controlling police through a balance of forces: The case of body cameras”). Cahiers de la sécurité et de la justice 40.

Willis, James J., Christopher Koper, and Cynthia Lum. (2017). “The Adaptation of License Plate Readers for Investigative Purposes: Police Technology and Innovation Re-Invention.” Justice Quarterly

Lum, Cynthia, Christopher Koper, and James J. Willis. (2017). “Understanding the Limits of Technology’s Impacts on Policing.” Police Quarterly 20: 135-63.

Willis, James J. and Stephen D. Mastrofski (2017). “Understanding the Culture of Craft: Lessons from Two Police Agencies.” Journal of Crime and Justice 40: 84-100.

Willis, James J. (2016). "The Romance of Police Pracademics" (Invited commentary). Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 10: 315-21.

Mastrofski, Stephen D., Tal Jonathan, Shomron Moyal, and James J. Willis (2016) "Predicting Procedural Justice in Police-Citizen Encounters." Criminal Justice and Behavior 43: 119-39.

Courses Taught

CRIM 100 Introduction to Criminal Justice

CRIM 220 Introduction to Law and Society

CRIM 402 Punishment and Corrections

CRIM 407 Advanced Topics in Law and Society

CRIM 491/492 Administration of Justice Honors Seminar

CRIM 700 Theories of Justice

CRIM 720 Behavior of Law

CRIM 723 Law and Social Control 

Dissertations Supervised

Marthinus C. Koen, On-Set with Body-Worn Cameras in a Police Organization: Structures, Practices, and Technological Frames (2016)

Holly Stevens, Rules, Laws and Conceptions of Justice in Middle School: An Exploratory Study of Children's Legal Consciousness (2013)