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​NIJ and IACP’s Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholarships for Law Enforcement Officers

Apply now! NIJ’s Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholars program supports mid-career law enforcement officers committed to using research to inform policy and practice. NIJ is now accepting applications for the 2018 class of LEADS scholars.

Deadline: June 8, 2018

Hear from the Scholars


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Overview of the Program

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 40 men and women 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.

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.

The LEADS Scholars program offers immeasurable benefit both to both scholars and their agencies. With NIJ advisory and research support, LEADS scholars have designed and conducted studies to help their agencies identify and solve major challenges through research. The program provides officers with professional development, mentorship, and networking opportunities, and NIJ provides editorial support in publishing and promoting research.

Structure and Expectations

The LEADS scholarship is a three-year commitment, and officers are expected to be active participants in all applicable activities. NIJ and IACP sponsor a variety of events and other activities for LEADS scholars:

  • Attendance at the IACP Annual Conference, including:
    • An orientation dinner with incoming and current scholars, NIJ and IACP personnel
    • Attendance at the NIJ Saturday Session, "What Works and What Matters in Policing"
    • Participation in the IACP RAC meeting
    • Attendance at the IACP Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Awards banquet
    • Participation in a private roundtable event with NIJ and IACP leadership to discuss priorities in policing research
  • Attendance at a two-day LEADS Summer Session, held at the NIJ headquarters in Washington, DC
  • Collaborative brainstorming events between LEADS scholars, NIJ science staff, and IACP executives
  • Travel support for independent research and site visits to see ongoing research undertaken by law enforcement agencies across the country
  • Opportunities to present research and findings at law enforcement conferences and be published in practitioner-focused journals
  • Attendance at NIJ-sponsored events focusing on law enforcement
  • Participation in NIJ peer review

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

Application Process

Deadline: June 8, 2018

NIJ is seeking applicants for the 2018 class of LEADS scholars. Applicants should be mid-career, in-the-ranks leaders within their agencies and have a personal dedication to advancing the policing field through research. Applicants must be sworn officers and cannot be current NIJ grantees.

Interested applicants should submit the following materials:

  • Resume
  • Two-page (12-point font, 1-inch margins) essay, which should include:
    • A brief description of your current roles and responsibilities in your agency
    • An overview of your experience partnering with researchers or conducting independent research to inform policy and practice in your agency
    • A discussion of your long-term professional goals and how the LEADS Scholars program can help you accomplish these goals
  • A letter from your supervisor, on agency letterhead, approving your participation in the LEADS program for up to three years

Send all application materials and questions to Rianna Starheim, rianna.starheim@ojp.usdoj.gov. Applicants will be notified of a decision July 16.

Date Created: April 27, 2018