Rylan Simpson was the lead researcher for the Police Officer Perception Project that impacted police departments’ policies and practices around the world.

Criminology, Faculty, New faculty

New criminology professor Rylan Simpson wants to know more about public perceptions of police

September 06, 2019

Rylan Simpson brings his expertise in extensive police work in a number of communities around the world to his new role as assistant professor in the School of Criminology.

Simpson’s research focuses on public perceptions of the police, and his work is closely connected to the community.

“I use my research to inform practice, and practice to inform my research,” says Simpson.

As lead researcher for the Police Officer Perception Project (POPP), Simpson investigated public perceptions of the police in the United States. The results of his research have impacted police departments’ policies and practices around the world.

Simpson sees his research as also being pertinent here in Vancouver. “I continue to see questions regarding police appearance attracting media attention in Vancouver,” he says, noting articles about the new Surrey police force vehicles, the exclusion of uniformed police from Pride parades and the recent presence of heavily armed police at local events.

Originally from Coquitlam, Simpson holds a BA in sociology and psychology from the University of British Columbia. He also completed an MA in social ecology and a PhD in criminology, law and society from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He was drawn to SFU because of its “world-renowned criminology faculty” and its application of scholarship to the community.

Simpson has won numerous awards for his academic achievements, publications and community involvement. Most notably, Simpson won the Graduate Student Future of the Field Award for exemplary leadership in community engagement, and the Smith Pontell Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Graduate Study, the highest graduate honour awarded by the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at UCI.

Simpson has worked as a police dispatcher and logged over 800 hours in police ride-alongs in Canada, Australia, the UK and the U.S. This international experience is expected to be helpful in future research comparing community perceptions of both officers and police agencies in different countries.

Simpson will be teaching three courses this year and hopes to conduct field experiments with local law enforcement organizations.