Robert Owens

B. Robert Owens, M.L.S., Ph.D.

Director of Safety and Justice Research

Safety & Justice Division


Robert Owens is Director of Safety and Justice Research at the National Policing Institute. He joined NPI in February 2023. He is responsible for a portfolio of research projects related to mental health crisis and vulnerable populations response; crime reduction; police-community engagement; officer safety and wellness; and schools, mass, and targeted violence.

From 2019 to 2023, Robert was a Chief Performance Analyst for Public Safety in the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General, where he led programmatic evaluations on topics including race-based disparities in use of force, protest response, ShotSpotter technology, gang data collection, officer wellness, police hiring, patrol staffing, 911 response times, union contracts, and the police disciplinary process. From 2017 to 2019, Robert was an Associate Principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance, where he advised clients including the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the Mayor’s Office on public safety strategy and operations. In 2019, he was embedded full-time as a consultant on Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s transition team.

Robert is a Lecturer at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate students on police reform, legitimacy theory, and government oversight and administration.

Robert earned an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University, an M.L.S. in Legal Studies from the University of Chicago Law School, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.

Areas of Focus

  • Crime reduction
  • Procedural justice & police legitimacy
  • Use of force
  • Officer wellness

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