About Robert Owens

Robert Owens has been a lecturer at the Harris School since 2019 and teaches on on police reform, legitimacy theory, and government oversight and administration. He also serves as Director of Safety & Justice Research at the National Policing Institute. At the National Policing Institute, he is responsible for a portfolio of research projects related to mental health crisis and vulnerable populations response; crime reduction; police-community engagement; and officer safety and wellness.

From 2019 to 2023, Robert was a Chief Performance Analyst for Public Safety in the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General, where he led programmatic evaluations on topics including race-based disparities in use of force, protest response, ShotSpotter technology, gang data collection, officer wellness, police hiring, patrol staffing, 911 response times, union contracts, and the police disciplinary process. From 2017 to 2019, Robert was an Associate Principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance, where he advised clients including the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the Mayor’s Office on public safety strategy and operations. In 2019, he was embedded full-time as a consultant on Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s transition team.

Robert earned an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University, an M.L.S. in Legal Studies from the University of Chicago Law School, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.