Heather Vovak

Heather Vovak, Ph.D.

Senior Research Associate

Research Division


Heather Vovak is a Senior Research Associate at the National Police Foundation. She has experience working on randomized controlled experiments, currently serving as project director for a multi-site randomized controlled trial examining the impact of procedural justice training for police officers in crime hot spots. Dr. Vovak is also the project director for a randomized controlled experiment evaluating police stops in violent crime hot spots. She has additionally worked on projects involving gun crimes, police technologies, and police training.

Dr. Vovak has experience conducting surveys with police departments and the community. Her research interests include hot spots policing, procedural justice, technologies in policing, and crime rate and clearance rate trends. Dr. Vovak is proficient at ArcGIS and group-based trajectory analysis.

Prior to work at the National Police Foundation, she worked at the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University. Dr. Vovak received her Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society from George Mason University, her M.A. in Political Science from the University of Akron, and her B.S. in Political Science and Psychology from Heidelberg University.

Key Projects

Enhancing Procedural Justice in Hot Spots Policing: A Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial

Police Stops, Crime Prevention, and Community Reaction: A Randomized Field Experiment at Violent Crime Hot Spots

Strategies for Policing Innovation (SPI) in Wilmington, DE


Scott, T. L., Wellford, C. F., Lum, C., & Vovak, H.(2019). Variability of crime clearance among police agencies. Police Quarterly, 22(1), 82-111.

Wellford, C. F., Lum, C., Scott, T. L., Vovak, H., & Scherer, J. A. (2019). Clearing homicides: The role of organizational, case, and investigative dimensions. Criminology & Public Policy, 18(3), 553-600.

Lum, C., Koper, C., Willis, J., Happeny, S., Vovak, H., & Nichols, J. (2018). The rapid diffusion of license plate readers in U.S. law enforcement agencies. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-04-2018-0054.

Lum, C. & Vovak, H.(2018). Variability in the use of misdemeanor arrests by police agencies from 1990-2013: An application of group-based trajectory modeling. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 29(6-7), 536-560.

Grieco, J., Vovak, H., & Lum, C. (2014). Examining research-practice partnerships in policing evaluations. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 8(4), 368-378.

Merola, L. M. & Vovak, H.(2013). The challenges of terrorist and extremist prisoners: A survey of U.S. prisons. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 24(3), 735-58.

Areas of Focus

  • Hot spots policing
  • Procedural justice
  • Police technologies
  • Crime rate and clearance rate trends
  • Randomized experiments

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