Officer James VanderMeer, Ph.D. | National Police Foundation

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.