James densley

Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University

Co-Founder of The Violence Project


Photo: Jeff Achen



Photo: Autumn Wilkie

James Densley is Professor and Department Chair of Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University, part of the Minnesota State system. He is also co-founder and co-president (with Jillian Peterson) of The Violence Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center best known for its mass shooter database, funded by the National Institute of Justice.

Densley has been an invited or plenary speaker on three continents and has brought in over $1 million in external funding. He has received global media attention for his work on street gangs, criminal networks, violence, and policing. Densley is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Gangs and Society (OUP, 2023) and the author of seven books, including the award-winning, How Gangs Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); 50 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 is a former middle school special education teacher and in 2017 he was awarded the Points of Light Award for outstanding community volunteerism by the UK Prime Minister. He earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Oxford.