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Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and a former member of the School of Education faculty, has been awarded the 2017 Sir Robert Peel Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Evidence-Based Policing by the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology.

The medal is named after the prime minister of the United Kingdom who founded the first modern metropolitan police service in London in 1829, creating the model for most urban U.S. police agencies. Since 2012, the Cambridge Police Executive Program has awarded the Sir Robert Peel Medal to a leader from any nation who has led major advances in the application of research for the improvement of police practices. The award is one of the highest honors bestowed on a law enforcement leader.

Stephens was presented with the medal on July 10 at the 10th Cambridge International Conference on Evidence-Based Policing by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, who chairs the National Police Chiefs’ Council in England and Wales. The conference was co-sponsored by the Society of Evidence-Based Policing, which has over 2,000 members in 30 countries.

Stephens was an instructor in the Public Safety Leadership program at the Johns Hopkins School of Education where he promoted the role of police in safeguarding people, neighborhoods and communities. (He was recently quoted in The New York Times article, “After Minneapolis Police Shooting, Many Ask: Why Wasn’t Body Camera On?”)

Often called “the scholar chief,” Stephens began his career as a patrol officer in Kansas City, and went on to serve as chief of police in Newport News, Va., St Petersburg, Fla., and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies. He was the first police professional to serve as executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, where he aggressively promoted research in policing across the United States. As executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association since 2010, he has led substantial growth in data collection and analysis in 70 large city police departments in the United States and Canada.

While serving as a member of the SOE faculty, Stephens was instrumental in advancing student engagement in community problem-solving and community development. He led research in a number of areas, including reducing inconsistencies in campus public safety and establishing a national system for credentialing campus public-safety personnel. He continues to serve as mentor to a number of SOE graduates who have become chiefs of police.

“Darrel is among a small group of scholars that has continuously influenced the quality of research in law enforcement,” said Sheldon Greenberg, a professor in the Division of Public Safety Leadership. “He was the first person to support the idea of a new type of program that led to the development of the Police Executive Leadership Program and Public Safety Leadership at Johns Hopkins.”

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