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CAST faculty member Dr. Mike Rossler talks research and criminal justice science

professor teaching a student in a computer lab

Dr. Rossler from the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

Dr. Mike Rossler, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences, has recently been featured in several articles on the topic of policing and criminal justice.

Rossler was originally connected with Illinois State when he was notified of a job opening in the area of GIS (geographic information system) and crime mapping, which he had some prior experience with.

He currently teaches the class in crime mapping, where he gets to do some interesting interactive work with students. One of his favorite projects allows students to collect raw crime data from their hometowns, map the data, go on police ride-alongs, and interview community stakeholders. They then work together to develop creative responses for crime prevention in the mapped areas. The project places an emphasis on the skills of problem solving and creative thinking.

“Most of the time people think crime mapping involves finding a hot spot and saturating that area with police officers, and most of the empirical evidence shows that environmentally focused policies are actually among the more successful interventions you can have at hot spots. I think that’s an eye-opening experience for students in the classroom,” he said.

Working with students is one of his favorite aspects as a CAST faculty member. “I love interacting with ISU students. I think most of them are engaged, and it’s great to build relationships with them, try to help them with critical thinking skills, try to get them launched in their careers. That makes me the happiest, when the things that I did with the students pay off for them,” said Rossler.

While teaching is one of his favorite aspects of work, Rossler also values the academic freedom and support for research that he receives in his role as a member of the faculty at ISU.

Research interest areas

Rossler’s initial research agenda included studying barriers in police officer recruitment.

“Policing is not a very diverse field, it’s becoming more diverse, but racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented, people of color are underrepresented, and women are underrepresented. So, I wanted to develop research in that area,” he said.

He is currently putting the finishing touches on patrol and recruitment research and moving on to study conservation policing. He plans to look at academy training models for conservation policing, analyzing how each model prepares officers for different aspects of work responsibilities they will face.

Rossler also has an article under review that discusses different levels of search authority that conservation officers have, depending on the state or region in which they operate. Some states give officers a high level of search authority, while others are more restrictive.

In the future, he plans to continue his research in the area of conservation officers, but is also preparing to study police officer retention, looking at what it takes to keep officers in the job, despite all of the challenges individuals face in that position.

Adapting to the COVID-19 environment

Like many others, Rossler’s work has been impacted by COVID-19 in a few different ways. He noted that his future research will depend on more data collection from online surveys rather than face-to-face settings.

He also mentioned the shift toward a virtual learning environment. He misses interacting with students in the computer lab, working on crime mapping software. However, Rossler has noticed an increase in the number of students willing to meet virtually for office hours, finding that more students are willing to discuss work and ask questions in a virtual environment rather than traditional, in-person office hours.

Rossler looks forward to future opportunities for teaching and research. He said, “I can’t wait to get back in the classroom as soon as possible. That’s where I like to be.”

Want to learn more?

Check out some of Dr. Rossler’s research and insight featured in the media, discussing the topics of police technology, recruitment, and accountability.

Think a major in Criminal Justice Sciences is for you? Check out the department’s website to learn more.