James densley

Professor of Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University

Co-Founder of The Violence Project

coming soon

The Violence Project

How To Stop A Mass Shooting Epidemic

By Jillian Peterson & James Densley

Abrams Press, 2021

An examination of the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and an urgent call to implement evidence-based strategies to stop these tragedies.

Pre-order HERE.


Photo: Jeff Achen


Public speaker

Photo: Autumn Wilkie

Short Bio

James Densley is Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University, part of the Minnesota State system. Densley is co-founder and co-president (with Jillian Peterson) of The Violence Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center dedicated to using data and analysis to reduce violence in society.

Densley has been an invited or plenary speaker on three continents and has received global media attention for his work on street gangs, criminal networks, violence, and policing. He is the author of six books, including the award-winning, How Gangs Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 45 peer-reviewed articles in leading scientific journals, and 70 book chapters, essays, and other non-refereed works in outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, HuffPost, LA Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Densley has received over $1 million in competitive grants and was Co-PI on the high profile NIJ-funded study of mass shooters in the United States. He is a former middle school special education teacher, and in 2019 he became a TEDx speaker.




  • D.Phil. (Sociology), University of Oxford (St. Antony's College)

  • M.S. (Teaching), Pace University

  • M.Sc. (Sociology), University of Oxford (St. Antony's College)

  • B.A. (Hons., Sociology with American Studies, First Class), University of Northampton (see alumni profile)

Awards and Honors

  • Metropolitan State University's first University Scholar, 2019

  • UK Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award, for “outstanding individual volunteers”, 2017

  • National Gang Crime Research Center’s Frederick Milton Thrasher Award for “superior accomplishments in gang research” , 2013