Funded Research

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology faculty actively pursue grants in order to research issues from agencies to initiatives to programs and more. Grants or contracts that our faculty have received are listed below.

Table of Contents


Kuhns, Joseph B. (2021-2022). Assessing the public safety impact of limited prosecutorial resources in Charlotte, North Carolina; Charlotte Police Foundation; $75,000

  • The primary purpose of this project is to objectively assess the current resources and capabilities of the Mecklenburg County Prosecutors Office and consider what improvements and changes are needed to maximize public safety in the future.  This is a particularly important criminal justice priority given the pending population growth in the city over the next couple of decades.  Within that context, this project will accomplish the following four research objectives: 1. Develop a concise literature review that explores the historical role of the prosecutor, local, regional and national allocation of prosecutor resources, and the impact of prosecutor discretion and charge decisions on crime and offending rates and on officer behavior; 2. Develop a summary description of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office operation over the past decade and at present; 3. Empirically compare the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office workload and resources relative to similar cities and counties, within the state and across the country; and 4) Offer recommendations for assisting the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office with maximizing public safety given current resources, and, more importantly, for improving public safety through effective prosecution practices by pursuing additional resources, prioritizing cases, and improving organizational infrastructure.


REU Site: UNC Charlotte Crime Analytics – Research Experiences for Undergraduate.  ($313,025).  Turner, Michael, Bjerregaard, Beth, and Phillips, Matt.  National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • REU Site: UNC Charlotte Crime Analytics Research Experiences for Undergraduates – Abstract: The UNC Charlotte Crime Analytics Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CA-REU) has five major objectives: (1) to aggressively recruit a diverse subset of undergraduate students to actively participate in innovative research projects that apply analytic tools to make decisions about crime; (2) to expose students to foundational analytic methods early in their educational careers in hopes of encouraging their involvement in data science and an analytics-based field of study; (3) to expose and engage students to research opportunities that demand communication and cooperation across experts in traditional discipline boundaries; (4) to enhance students’ educational experiences by exposing them to workshops, seminars, and social activities that enrich their professional development and inspire them to pursue graduate school; (5) to foster shared interdisciplinary communication skills by offering opportunities to disseminate research findings via an annual undergraduate research symposium, annual professional conferences, and peer-reviewed journal outlets. Ten students will be selected to participate in the CA-REU program each year. The targeted student population includes rising sophomores and juniors who are members of a group where research opportunities are limited or participation is underrepresented. These individuals will include women, minorities, and HBCU/community college students. Students will participate in a 10-week undergraduate research experience, workshops and seminars, outreach training and activities, and various social/cultural activities. The primary impact of the CA-REU project is the advancement of analytics and data science research opportunities at the undergraduate level and a broadening of the crime analytics workforce. 


Exum, M.L., Listwan, S., Dewitt, S. & Kuhns, Joseph B. (2018-2022). Improving Officer Decision-Making: Can Personality Predict Outcomes in Use of Force Decisions? National Institute of Justice, grant funded for $432,159

  • Although a comprehensive account of police use of force in the US does not currently exist, the available research suggests that approximately 2% of official police contacts with civilians (and approximately 20% of all arrests) result in an officer’s use of force.  Estimates of civilian injury during these events is nearly 40%, with officers being injured during these encounters at comparable rates.  While much is known about the situational factors of a police encounter that contribute to escalation and use of force, far less is known about the individual-level factors that shape these decisions. Therefore, this study will examine the impact of certain psychological, cognitive, professional and social network factors on police officers’ decisions to use force. Police officers will complete a battery of questionnaires designed to measure personality traits, problem solving styles, years of experience as an officer and peer support networks within their respective departments.  Officers will also complete a series of use of force exercises inside a video simulator, where officers must decide whether to use force or use de-escalation techniques to resolve an encounter with a non-compliant suspect.  For purposes of comparison, civilian participants with no use of force training will also complete these exercises.  The study will explore how personality, cognitive, professional and social network factors impact the decision to use force, the level of force used (lethal or non-lethal), and the timing of that force.  Additionally, the study will examine the impact of the civilian’s participation in the use of force simulations on their attitudes toward police and use of force.

Tabkhivayghan, H., Pulugurtha, S., Ravindran, A. Reid, S. & Shoemaker, D. (2018).  SCC: Building Safe and Secure Communties through Realtime Edge Video Analytics.  National Science Foundation, grant funded for $1.87 million


  • Arbitrary Profiling Review – Dr. Joe Kuhns (PI) and Dr. Shannon Reid [Funded: $21,270], Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
    • Abstract: Arbitrary (racial) profiling, real or perceived, remains a pressing concern in the law enforcement community and many departments, including those in the Charlotte region, are interested in ensuring that their law enforcement practices are lawful, transparent and equitable. Between 2003 and 2005, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) solicited the services of North Carolina State University to determine whether their department was engaged in activities that might be perceived as arbitrary profiling. At that time, there was little evidence to suggest that arbitrary profiling was a concern at CMPD. Following the recent state-wide release of law enforcement traffic stop data for all departments in the state, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department approached UNC Charlotte (Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology) to proactively review their current policing activities to determine whether there is any evidence of arbitrary profiling (using demographic indicators to facilitate traffic stops and searches) at this time. This project will explore this question/issue by analyzing internal CMPD data on vehicle stops and vehicle searches (race-based data on pedestrian stops and searches is not currently collected by CMPD officers). Our analytical strategy will mirror the traffic stop and search work that was completed by North Carolina State between 2003 and 2005, but will also consider the impact of current, proactive policing strategies that are used by CMPD. Our final report will also help the department visualize (via mapping) where, why and how traffic stops are recently occurring and whether arbitrary practices play a role in traffic enforcement practices in Charlotte. 
  • Evaluating TARGET Trauma-Informed Juvenile Program in Community Corrections – Dr. Shannon Reid (PI), Dr. Jen Hartman, and Dr. Shelley Listwan [Funded: $493,488]
    • Abstract: The overall goal of this research initiative is to advance evidence-based practices for trauma-informed care of youth in the juvenile justice system. The current project advances this goal by conducting a process and outcome evaluation a well-established trauma curriculum currently offered within community-based treatment centers throughout Connecticut. Utilizing an experimental design, the project will examine outcomes among youth who receive trauma specific services against those who receive treatment as usual. The partners for the project include two main stakeholder groups. The Connecticut Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division (CSSD), who is responsible for data collection on youth and outcomes and Advanced Trauma Solutions, Inc. (ATS) who collects implementation and quality assurance data on the trauma informed care intervention. The implications for this project are wide reaching and impactful for juvenile justice involved youth, their families and the practitioners in charge of the youth’s care. By investigating a well-established trauma curriculum in a juvenile justice system that is dedicated to the implementation of best practices, this research will advance research on best practices of trauma informed care in the field. Results from this study will be disseminated to a wide range of audiences including researchers, practitioners and policy makers.
  • Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Project – Dr. Beth Bjerregaard [Funded: $10,200]
    • Abstract: The project will evaluate the effectiveness of expanding Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Program to address the needs of Mentally Ill persons who are veterans and/or trauma impacted. 


  • Assessing the Fidelity of National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Demonstration Field Experiment (DFE): Changing Attitudes and Motivation in Parolees (CHAMPS) – Dr. Shelley Listwan (PI) and Dr. Jen Hartman [Funded: $134,170]
    • Abstract: This project is a subcomponent evaluation of a larger federally funded project. The National Institute of Corrections (NIC), with funding from BJA, is developing the interventions which include a curriculum for parole officers called Next Generation (NG) and two cognitive behavioral therapy approaches to be delivered by service providers, Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Thinking for a Change (T4C). NIC is training parole officers and service providers to deliver the interventions in three sites: Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Des Moines, Iowa. The current project is a fidelity study to assess whether the sites are able to implement the interventions in practice. 
  • Crime Analysis Capability – Dr. Shannon Reid (PI) [Funded: $49,499]
    • Abstract: The roles of involvement in the project by Dr. Reid will include helping to fully document the capabilities of the RTCC and the integration of crime analysis capabilities, developing the toolkit, working with CMPD to implement and trouble-shoot the toolkit, and disseminating relevant information through presentations and publications. 
  • Victim Responses to Burglary – Dr. Joe Kuhns (PI), Dr. Kristie Blevins, and Dr. Michael Turner [Funded: $49,499]
    • Abstract: Victims of burglaries have been the subject of some research during the last two decades. However, most of this research does not focus on the details of the crime and/or precautions taken by the victim before and after the burglary occurred. This study will examine how victims react and respond to residential burglary in Charlotte. The study subjects will be identified through police reports of residential burglaries that occur during the first six months of 2015. Victims of these burglaries will then be contacted and asked to provide information via an online survey. Gathering this type of information from residential burglary victims will serve two primary purposes. First, it will yield insights regarding if and how victims of burglaries change their behaviors and security measures after a burglary. Second, it will add to the knowledge base of how burglars select targets and commit their crimes. 


  • CABARRUS STARS – Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches – Dr. Michael Turner (PI) [Funded: $90,000]
    • Abstract: Cabarrus Health Alliance, a designated public health agency, seeks to implement a local violence prevention demonstration project in Cabarrus County, North Carolina in collaboration with the Concord and Kannapolis Police Departments. Our initiative, Cabarrus STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand), has a unique and powerful opportunity to impact county-wide social norms towards positive decision-making that will improve educational outcomes and reduce school violence among minority male youth. Our proposed program will adopt a multi-level approach based on the Social Ecological Model that targets students, law-enforcement, and school personnel. STARS will incorporate three major components: Systems-based Training, Case Management with Cognitive Behavioral Prevention Education, and Positive Youth Development. The program will provide three years of systems-level staff training and intensive prevention programming to approximately 450-600 at-risk minority male youth attending selected high-needs middle and high schools within the Kannapolis City Schools and Cabarrus County Schools districts. A valuable component of the proposed project is the use of volunteer fire fighters and police officers who will assist with programming and serve as positive, caring adult role models. Cabarrus STARS seeks to improve school safety and climate; reduce reported instances of bullying and victimization; reduce positive attitudes toward violent and aggressive behavior; and reduce the number of office disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. The evaluation team will conduct both formative and summative assessments using pre- and post- participant surveys as well as existing school data reports on attendance and disciplinary action. Four non-participating schools in Cabarrus County will be selected to serve as a comparison group using propensity score matching. Bivariate analyses will be conducted to assess statistically significant differences between intervention and comparison schools. 


  • Mecklenburg County Frequent User Service Enhancement (FUSE) Pilot Evaluation – Dr. Shelley Listwan (PI) [Funded: $191,917]
    • Abstract: Frequent or chronic users of crisis services and public health systems are a substantial fiscal and social burden to the community. The proposed Mecklenburg County Frequent Users Service Enhancement (FUSE) Pilot Project is based on the FUSE initiative developed by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. The national FUSE blueprint includes a supportive housing model focused on the coordination of services including, but not limited to, case management, mental health, employment and addictions services. While the model has demonstrated promise in several other sites (i.e., New York, Washington D.C.) additional research demonstrating its effectiveness is needed. The proposed evaluation of the Mecklenburg County FUSE pilot project includes an examination of the development and implementation of the model and an assessment of its outcomes.


  • Assessment of Need: Homeless Arrestees, Mecklenburg County Jail – Dr. Paul Friday (PI) and Dr. Charisse Coston [Funded: $5,500]
    • Abstract: In 2010 a study estimated the homeless in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to be about 900 persons. Of these, 64% were known to have been in the Mecklenburg County jail at least once. Given the high proportion of homeless who come through the jail, this study is designed to take a snap-shot of the actual number of homeless arrestees and to interview them to determine their health and social needs, victimization experiences, and locations in the city they fear. The result will help provide community based service providers improve and increase the services to the homeless. 


  • Chinese Judge Training – Dr. Paul Friday (PI) [Funded: $7,560]
    • Abstract: This project provides training to 4 Chinese judges and prosecutors. They will be given theoretical information on how the US deals with youthful drug offenders. They will be given one day of experential traiing at the Mecklenburg County Court. 
  • Comparative Study of Female Police Officers – Dr. Vivian Lord (PI) [Funded: $12,000]
    • Abstract: I propose to provide comparative lectures for core classes in Victimology and Women and Crime for the Department of Criminology at the University of Madras and to conduct collaborative comparative research with the faculty at the Department of Criminology in the recruitment, training and responsibilities of women in policing in India. My areas of teaching and research are of interest to most societies, and developed societies do not have all of the answers. Dissemination of my findings in the United States will be as useful as their distribution in India. 
  • Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective – Dr. Joe Kuhns (PI) [Funded: $49,984]
    • Abstract: Research seeking to understand the criminological factors associated with burglary and burglars’ decision-making processes has been conducted through victimization surveys, interviews or surveys with incarcerated offenders, and analyses of crime, census, and land use secondary data. While knowledge gained through these techniques is significant, the number of studies focusing specifically on burglary is limited, many studies have been conducted in countries other than the United States, and few studies examine the impact of alarms on burglar motivations and decisions. Using a sample of convicted burglars in North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, the purpose of the current study is to add to the knowledge base concerning the motivation and techniques used by burglars as they select targets and carry out their crimes. Additionally, this research will examine what factors, such as burglar alarms or locks, may deter burglars from committing the act. Importantly, the current study will collect data from both male and female burglars, which will provide significant insight into the similarities and differences in motivations and actions based on gender. 


  • Cabarrus County Gangs – Dr. Paul Friday (PI) [Funded: $12,000]
  • JoAn Wood Pilot Project Evaluation – Dr. Shelley Listwan (PI) [Funded: $66,000]
    • Abstract: The current proposal seeks to evaluate the impact and the population served by the Wood Pilot Project. The Wood Pilot Project is designed to target moderate risk clients with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. The primary purpose of this project is to document and assess how well the project was implemented, who was served by the court, and whether there were any unanticipated barriers or concerns as the program developed. The outcome evaluation will examine the effectiveness of the Wood Pilot Project in reducing recidivism rates compared to a similar group of offenders served through traditional probation. 
  • Montgomery County Gang Assessment – Dr. Paul Friday (PI) [Funded: $18,270]
    • Abstract: This is an assessment of perceptions and experiences with youth gang activity in Montgomery County, NC. 
  • Study of Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) in North Carolina – Dr. Vivian Lord (PI), Dr. Beth Bjerregaard, and Dr. Kristie Blevins [Funded: $29,956]
    • Abstract: The purpose of the current study will be to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of CITs to the criminal justice system through the examination of the three sites: Five County Mental Health Authority, Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, and Wake County Human Services. We will closely analyze the data collected at these three sites for information relevant to the criminal justice system (e.g., law enforcement resources and recidivism rates), the ease in completion of data collection by first-line officers and deputies, and capability of obtaining valid and complete information. Through interviewing the first-line professionals and analyzing the data, the investigators also will recommend a plan for collecting and using critical, relevant data for future criminal justice decision-making. 
  • Western & South China International Conference on Drug Issues – Dr. Paul Friday (PI) [Funded: $7,560]