EdD Alumni Profile: Russ Norris


As a police officer for nearly 30 years, and police academy instructor for nearly 20, I entered the EdD program to develop myself and better support collaborative police-community relationships. My dissertation, Training for Community Policing: Constructing Effective Police Education, transformed my understanding of the theory and practice of police training. After retirement from the force, I will apply these perspectives to criminal justice programs in higher education.

I am committed to improving police education in California. My career as a police officer has had a dual focus: supporting meaningful police-community collaboration and educating officers to meet the demands of these relationships. Education and critical inquiry are necessary to produce just and equitable officers equally skilled in participative problem solving and traditional law enforcement. My research suggests that the best way to accomplish this is to enable police academy trainers to develop their students’ skills to critically analyze and innovatively solve problems, collaborate and communicate within diversity, and practice just and contextually-sensitive decision making.
The EdD program reminded me of the depth of my own commitment to serve as a police officer, and it taught me the vital importance of teaching new police officers how to serve. Initially, the EdD curriculum challenged and guided me to have a much clearer and deeper understanding of the role of policing and the importance of police training. As it later unfolded, my dissertation explored the philosophies and strategies of some of the most effective police academy educators in California. Their insight helped me to better understand best practices in police education — understanding that I now hope to share as a higher-education instructor in undergraduate criminal justice programs.