Course Description

In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. This practicum will focus on innovative efforts to transform policing and our criminal justice system. Students will participate in a weekly two-hour seminar and carry out approximately 15 hours of project work each week under the direction of the course professors.


Nationwide, high-profile police shootings and the documentation of patterns of police misconduct have triggered the emergence of broad-based protest and reform movements. Here in Washington, D.C., relations between DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the community it serves have been relatively positive compared to many other regions, but MPD nonetheless struggles to ensure it polices effectively, fairly and collaboratively in a diverse and changing city. What’s more, even “good” policing is part of a criminal justice system that both reflects and drives racial, ethnic and socio-economic rifts in American society. Through this practicum, students will work with MPD and community groups to transform the training and education MPD provides its officers and new recruits. Students will gain the skills and knowledge lawyers need to play an effective role in the effort to transform policing and our criminal justice system.

Project Work

Project work will be comprised of two components: 1) student projects, conducted either by individual students or in groups; and 2) cooperative work with Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, for example, leading discussions with MPD police recruits and participating in Police for Tomorrow workshops and related programming. Through some or all of these components students will have the opportunity to work directly with police officers and community groups to learn their perspectives on policing and our criminal justice system—critical components of reform efforts.

Student Projects

Student projects will be based on a combination of student interests and Innovative Policing Program needs. Students may be assigned to work on a project individually, or with a team of students. Projects may include researching and writing-up innovative projects and best practices in policing; developing workshops for the Program on Innovative Policing’s MPD Academy or Police for Tomorrow work; developing and implementing legislative initiatives related to policing; designing law enforcement curricular modules for use at MPD or other departments; or developing and implementing outcome metrics to evaluate innovative police projects.

Innovative Policing Program

Students may lead break-out groups of officer recruits at Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department Training Academy on topics such as: implicit bias, race and policing, homelessness, history of policing/DC, use of force, persons in behavioral or mental health crisis, youth and policing, alternatives to arrest, active bystandership and other vital topics. As noted above, some students, as part of their student projects, may help develop workshops and design law enforcement curricular modules for MPD’s training academy. Practicum students also will help support the Georgetown Law-MPD Police for Tomorrow Fellowship.