Jonathan Mummolo — 2018 Harold D. Lasswell Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Harold D. Lasswell Award to Dr. Jonathan Mummolo at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline. The $1,000 award, supported by the Policy Studies Organization, recognizes the best dissertation on public policy.

Jonathan Mummolo is an Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. His research examines the intersection of bureaucratic politics and political behavior. He devotes particular focus to law enforcement agencies which, despite their normative importance as one of the most visible and powerful public bureaucracies, have received relatively scant attention from political scientists to date. In addition to evaluating the efficacy of police reform, he also studies how police tactics influence public perceptions of institutions and the social world.

In addition to his work on policing, Mummolo authored studies on partisan polarization, political communication and racial and ethnic politics. He conducts methodological research on issues relevant to my substantive work, including statistical modeling and experimental design. His work exploits a range of data sources and research designs including survey and natural experiments, qualitative interviews and administrative records obtained through public information requests to government agencies.

Mummolo’s research has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal of Politics, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Political Analysis and Political Science Research and Methods, among other peer-reviewed journals. He received his B.A. from New York University and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Before beginning his doctoral studies, Mummolo was a staff writer at The Washington Post, where he covered crime and politics in the Washington, D.C. region. Mummolo was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and now lives in Princeton, N.J. with his wife, Dr. Lauren Wright.

The Award Committee stated that “Modern Police Tactics, Police-Citizen Interactions, and the Prospects for Reform” is a highly original dissertation that advances our understanding of criminal justice policy while also challenging the conventional wisdom about bureaucratic politics. Jonathan Mummolo links public opinion, political behavior, public administration, and public policy analysis in a fresh and compelling fashion. Mummolo uses multiple methods to better understand police behavior, including content analysis, survey research, multivariate analysis, and personal interviews. He creates innovative new datasets from scratch, gathers previously untapped data through Freedom of Information Act searches, and uses rigorous statistical methods to identify both intended and unintended effects of local police decisions. Throughout, Mummolo identifies conceptual and empirical problems with our traditional understanding of how street-level bureaucrats work. Local police departments that invest in militarized equipment and that highlight these investments run the risk of losing public support for their work. A local police department that deliberately seeks to change ‘stop and frisk’ practices by police officers can produce sudden and salutary shifts in police behavior. These and other novel and important findings contribute substantially to our understanding of the relationship between police policies and public opinion, as well as the relationship between police officers and their superiors. Overall, this is a truly outstanding dissertation on a topic that is particularly vital at this moment in our nation’s public life.