At Peirce College, most of our faculty members are industry professionals who practice what they preach. Many have spent years working in the fields they teach which gives them keen insights into the industries where our students are finding jobs. Robert Brzenchek, Assistant Professor and Program Manager for our Criminal Justice Studies department is no exception. Professor Brzenchek has enjoyed an illustrious career as a Navy intelligence specialist, a Washington D.C. police officer, and a defense contractor for various state and federal agencies. He continues to be in high demand for criminal justice consulting and speaking engagements across the country. His most recent presentation was at the National Gang Crime Research Center’s (NGCRC) conference in Chicago. We sat down with Professor Brzenchek to learn more about his research, the mission of the NGCRC, and how this impacts Peirce College students.
Can you tell us about the mission of the NGCRC?
The NGCRC exists as a non-profit independent agency that seeks to do several things. First, they promote research on gangs, gang members, and gang problems in cooperation with federal, state, and local government agencies. They also disseminate up-to-date valid and reliable information about gangs and gang problems through the official publication of the NGCRC, the Journal of Gang Research. This connects law enforcement officers (LEOs) and government agencies across the country and ensures that everyone has access to the most up-to-date and valuable information to aid in their work against gang violence. They also provide training and consulting services about gangs at the federal, state and local levels.
Who attends this conference?
This particular conference was attended by members of Illinois law enforcement, corrections, and social services agencies who deal with gangs daily. Illinois, specifically Chicago, has been ranked behind only Los Angeles as having the highest concentration of gangs in the nation.
What information did you present?
I’ve done a significant amount of research into gang activity and how to combat the problem, so I presented on many of my findings. There has been a spike of gang-related murders in recent years and one strategy to combat that has been a prominent shift toward predictive policing. The predictive-policing vision moves law enforcement from focusing on what happened to focusing on what will happen and how to effectively deploy resources in front of crime, thereby changing outcomes. One key aspect of my presentation was how predictive policing for gang prevention can assess criminal justice leaders’ level of readiness. Research in this area highlights a need for focused gang prevention for identified populations. Much of my research has shed light upon areas where vulnerabilities continue to exist for those of lower socio-economic communities in contrast to those of higher socio-economic communities, allowing for criminal justice policy makers and planners to address such vulnerabilities in communities when implementing gang predictive prevention programs.
What impact does this have on Peirce’s criminal justice studies students?
Philadelphia has always been on the cusp of new criminal justice initiatives. While most Peirce students may not be able to attend events such as the NGCRC, I’ve been able to incorporate much of my research into regular classes, so students are receiving the same level of information as current LEOs working in the field. Having access to this type of information allows students to stay properly informed and bridges the gap in understanding as they find careers in the criminal justice field. I find that many students have used information like this to help resist gang violence; increase their knowledge and understanding of current issues; and create solutions for a safer Philadelphia.
Thanks for your insights, Professor Brzenchek!
Editor's note: Professor Brzenchek will also be serving as an on air security expert for NBC10 during the upcoming Philadelphia papal visit. For more information on Peirce College's real world inspired curriculums and our Legal Studies programs, click here.