Dr. Michael Smith named new chair of the department of criminal justice


Michael Smith, J.D., Ph.D. began his new role as Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice on July 1.  Dr. Smith is a former law enforcement officer and a nationally-recognized expert on racial profiling.

Michael R. Smith, Professor and Chair, holds a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University.   He holds an impressive array of experience.  Smith comes to us from the University of Texas at El Paso where he was Professor and Director for the Center for Law and Human Behavior.   He is a criminologist and a former municipal and county police officer who has served as a principal investigator on many extramural grants and research contracts over his 20-year career as a police scholar and criminal justice researcher.   With funding from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), he led the most comprehensive investigation to date on the use of force by police and injuries to officers and citizens.  Smith is a nationally-recognized expert on racial profiling and use of force and led or contributed to large-scale traffic or pedestrian stop data analysis efforts in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, FL, Richmond, VA, and with state highway patrol agencies in Washington and Arizona.   He is currently a co-principal investigator on an NIJ-funded, randomized controlled evaluation of a police training initiative to reduce conflict and the use of force between police and citizens.   

"I am very excited about recruiting Professor Smith to UTSA," remarked Dr. Sáenz, Dean of the College of Public Policy.   

"He brings an exceptional record of leadership and research along with an impressive record of grant funding. Professor Smith is a major addition to the Department of Criminal Justice and the College of Public Policy and I am looking forward to working with him."

Smith is invested in reinforcing the mission of the department of criminal justice in providing quality education, research and service to students, practitioners and the community.

"It is an honor to have been be selected as the new chair of Criminal Justice at UTSA," says Smith. 

 "The department has an outstanding group of faculty who excel both in the classroom and in their many research endeavors.   I am excited to be at UTSA and to help the lead the department as it seeks to strengthen its core missions of teaching, research, and service to criminal justice agencies locally and across the State of Texas and beyond."

Smith oversees COPP's largest academic program with a student body of nearly 1,000.   The Department is dedicated to delivering quality education to its students through top-tier undergraduate and graduate programs.   Faculty members teach and conduct research in a wide range of topics in criminal justice and criminology, including policing, corrections, courts, juvenile justice, forensic science, and victim services. Students who graduate from the program pursue professional careers in law enforcement, government or the private sector, and also apply for admission to law school and other graduate programs.