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Zachary Powell

Zachary Powell

Associate Professor


Associate Professor
Criminal Justice
Office Phone(909) 537-4332
Office LocationSB-209G


Ph.D. Criminology, The University of Texas at Dallas

M.S., Criminology, The University of Texas at Dallas

B.S., Criminal Justice, The University of North Texas


CJUS 1101 - Introduction to the Criminal Justice System

CJUS 3340 - Police and Police Systems

CJUS 3320 - Theories of Crime and Delinquency

CJUS 3311 - Research Methods in Criminal Justice

CJUS 3312 - Statistics in Criminal Justice

CJUS 6632 - Seminar in Policing


Police accountability, public policy, applied quantitative methods, policing, survey experiments, longitudinal modeling, policing, law enforcement, police integrity, de-policing, administrative burden, police complaints, visual perceptions.

Research and Teaching Interests

Much of my work studies the interaction between police accountability and public policy. This write-up focuses on a few past and future research areas.

AB 392/Deadly Force

In 2019, California passed AB 392, the California Act to Save Lives, in an effort to reduce officer deadly force. The legal change was designed so that officers must show deadly force was necessary to protect the life of another person. Using interrupted time series and synthetic control methods, I demonstrate that AB 392 did not substantively reduce fatal officer-involved shootings. 

"Did California Act to Save Lives? AB 392 and fatal officer-involved shootings"

Body-worn Cameras

I became interested in the relationship between body-worn cameras (BWCs) and settlements as settlements may represent a form of serious police misconduct. Using data from The Washington Post, I use panel data to discover how settlements and payments per settlements changed post-adoption. I find some evidence suggesting BWCS are associated with substantive reductions in settlement behaviors.

"Body-worn Cameras and Settlements"

Consent Decrees

The federal government, empowered by Section 14141, has the right to investigate and intervene into any police department believed to exhibit a pattern or practice of police misconduct. Using these powers exemplifies a powerful intervention by the government to correct longstanding law enforcement misbehavior. So far, I've published on the effect of consent decrees on civil litigation patterns and the public's willingness to pay for police reform. See below for articles related to this research stream:

"Police Consent Decrees and Section 1983 Civil Litigation"

"Willingness to Pay for Police Reform"


Police reform, however, may carry consequences for line officers. By engaging in police reform, or drawing negative external scrutiny, police officers may disengage for proactive efforts intended to combat crime. If de-policing effects exist, then community safety may be endangered. In one article, I demonstrate how proactive policing behaviors change during a period of negative external scrutiny:

"De-policing, Police Stops, and Crime"

Police Integrity

Police officers are equipped with the power to search, seize, and use force at their discretion to conduct their duties. The imbued powers separate law enforcement officers from the public. If abused, police officers could be considered corrupt or lacking integrity. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to study police integrity, defined as an officer's inclination to resist abusing their powers. My work in this area has focused on geographic variation of police integrity within a city, as well as the relationship between ethics and police integrity.

"Expanding the Measurement of Police Integrity"

"Exploring the Viability of an Attitudes Towards Ethical Behavior Scale in Understanding Police Integrity Outcomes"

Visual Perceptions of Law Enforcement

Police perceptions research often relies on survey methods to identify attitudes towards law enforcement. While useful, these methods cannot approximate how one reacts and feels when in the presence of a police officers. I'm working with Nic Brunet, a colleague in the CSUSB Psychology Department, on a multi-disciplinary project aimed at measuring responses to law enforcement visual stimuli. We are seeking  external funding from the National Science Foundation to fund this project.

Our first preliminary study was accepted for publication. In this article, we demonstrate that those with negative attitudes toward police rate angry expressions of law enforcement more negatively than control faces. This is a curious finding that we hope to explore more in future work.

"Trust in the Police and Affective Evaluations of Police Faces: A Preliminary Study."

Administrative Burden and Police Complaints

Official complaints are a crucial avenue for the public to report police misconduct to law enforcement officials. Much is known about the content of police complaints, the people who are most likely to file a complaint, and the formalization of internal processes. However, little is known about the design of police complaint systems. I contend that administrative burdens, categorized into psychological, learning, and compliance costs, inhibits complaints and, by extension, police accountability.

I'm applying for external grant funding at the National Science Foundation to support a multi-year mixed methods study that examines the administrative burden of police complaints.

Policing in America Textbook

I am also co-author of Policing in America, published by Routledge, now in its 9th Edition.

Policing in America

Court Filings

On occasion, my work has been cited in court cases and amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States and elsewhere:

County of Tulare v. Murguia, Amicus Curiae, October 2023 - Supreme Court

Vega v. Tekoh, Amicus Curiae, March 2022 - Supreme Court

Vega v. Tekoh, Amicus Curiae, November 2021 - Supreme Court

Illinois v. City of Chicago, 2019 WL 398703 - United States District Court