CHDS Alum Champions Rise of Evidence-Based Policing at National Level

From working with a Bakersfield Police Department under investigation by the California State Department of Justice and working under a consent decree to playing a key role in promoting evidence-based national policing practices, Center for Homeland Defense and Security Master’s alum Christopher Bagby has been on a whirlwind journey.

Ltn. Christopher Bagby

Three years after graduating from CHDS, Ltn. Bagby (Master’s Program cohort 1905/1906) now serves with two major national policing organizations. Bagby credits CHDS for enabling him to have an influence on the direction of policing and reform in our nation at such a critical time in history.

Bagby currently serves as a board member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Police Research Advancement Section (PRAS) and as a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Scholar, which he described as a “great honor” while noting that they are “extremely competitive positions to get.”

He said both organizations aim to advance evidence-based policing practices in the United States, and both groups “believe that to continue solving many, if not all, of the problems American policing continues to struggle with, police organizations need to learn to develop, train, implement, and evaluate evidence-based, data-driven, and problem-oriented strategies, policies, and practices.”

As part of that mission, Bagby recently served as a panelist in the IACP’S Quarterly Webinar series entitled “The Intersection of Training and Education in Law Enforcement: Building Evidence-Based Training Programs,” which is presented by the association’s PRAS and features police leaders and leading police scholars on central topics of concern to every agency interested in or intrigued by evidence-based policing.

Bagby said his education at CHDS is “undeniably directly related to my involvement with these organizations,” noting that the research he did for his CHDS thesis, “Beyond Reform: Better Policing through Systems Thinking,” is directly related to the topics of evidence-based, research-driven policing practices. Bagby said the “skills I learned [at CHDS] related to how I think, write, speak, present, and ingest research allow me to swim in these waters and contribute to my having a voice in this conversation at a national level.”

“More than the honorary aspect, or the competition of being selected for such cool opportunities, [CHDS] regularly put me in the room with some of the most important, innovative and influential thinkers about policing in this country and allowed me to feel like I belong there,” he said. “Maybe most importantly, they give me an opportunity to use my voice, experience, and perspective to influence them and perhaps, in some respect, the industry. None of that would have been remotely possible for me, at least, without the education, experience, and mentorship I’ve received at CHDS. There’s zero chance I am where I am without CHDS.”

Bagby said he is “passionate” about his CHDS education, which he began while his department was under investigation for alleged unconstitutional policing patterns and practices, and stretched throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including the 2020 national protests following the George Floyd murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

“There’s zero chance I am where I am without CHDS.”

– Ltn. Christopher Bagby

It was at CHDS that Bagby said he learned about systems thinking and gap analysis, and that his education informed “my message and goals” on evidence-based policing and reform. He said his CHDS research objective was to make policing “more iterative and thoughtful and make future reform as we currently understand it unnecessary.”

Bagby credited longtime CHDS instructor Chris Bellavita and his classmate Steven Espinoza (Master’s Program cohort 1905/1906), a retired law enforcement official, with helping convince him to join the NIJ LEADS Scholar Program. Fellow CHDS alum and Portland police officer Natasha Haunsperger (Master’s Program cohort 1901/1902) is also an NIJ LEADS Scholar.

Bagby said he has had the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s most influential policing academics and researchers, which includes among many others Professor Cynthia Lum of George Mason University, Dr. Joel Caplan of Rutgers University, Professor Michael Smith of the University of Texas, San Antonio, and NIJ Director Dr. Nancy LaVigne, as well as others who are also practitioners with policing backgrounds.

Bagby joined Bakersfield Police Department in 2002 after four years in the U.S. Army and earned a B.S. in Public Administration from National University.

As manager of the department’s Office of Performance and Analysis, he oversees the Quality Assurance Unit, Crime Analysis Unit, and Wellness Programs. He also manages the organization’s accountability and oversight programs, reform efforts, policy programs, and organizational improvement projects, holds such collateral duties as the COVID-19 Resource Team Leader/Infection Control Officer, Terrorism Liaison Team Leader, and the Use of Force Committee Chair, and works on the department’s Civil Litigation Team.

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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