Officer James VanderMeer, Ph.D.


James wants to expand the role of behavioral science in policing. Because police work makes such potent and peculiar psychological demands of officers, behavioral science offers a uniquely promising tool kit for improving officer performance, and, when integrated into a broader scientific approach to research and innovation, organizational performance as well.

James comes from a diverse research background. He has fielded national public opinion surveys, staged focus groups, conducted laboratory experiments, consulted on defense projects, interviewed a serial killer, and even collected urine samples from arboreal monkeys using a modified butterfly net. He is committed to evidence-based approaches to solving problems, and he brings that commitment to the challenges he encounters as a police officer.

As a patrol officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., James faces issues familiar to many urban officers, but he is most passionate about his roles as a crisis intervention specialist for mental health consumers, a point of contact for community engagement, and in de-escalating violent encounters.

James holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago, where he used behavioral economic games to investigate the social and cognitive mechanisms of conflict escalation.