Pitt Law Professor David A. Harris Granted 2014-15 Jefferson Award for Public Service

Professor David A. Harris

David A. Harris, Distinguished Faculty Scholar and professor of law in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has been awarded a 2014-15 Jefferson Award for Public Service. Named for United States President Thomas Jefferson, the honor recognizes individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.

A leading authority on issues related to racial profiling, Harris writes and teaches about police behavior and regulation, law enforcement, and national security issues and the law at Pitt Law. In addition to his scholarly work, Harris does professional training for law enforcement agencies throughout the nation in order to improve police procedure and public safety.

In 2014, Harris served on Mayor Bill Peduto’s screening committee to choose Pittsburgh’s new police chief. He also served as a member of District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s working group on taser use.

Harris is the author of the book Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science (NYU Press, 2012), which focuses on police and prosecutorial agencies and their resistance to adopting empirically proven, science-based investigative methods and techniques into their procedures. He also is the author of Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (The New Press, 2005) and Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (The New Press, 2002).

Harris’ scholarly articles about traffic stops of motorists from underrepresented populations and about stops and frisks influenced the national debate on profiling and related topics. His work led to federal efforts to address racial profiling and to legislation and voluntary efforts in various states and in hundreds of police departments. 

In recognition of his national expertise, Harris has testified in the U.S. Senate and before many state legislative bodies on profiling, immigration enforcement, and related issues. He has appeared on The Today Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and has been interviewed by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times, among many others.

Established in 1972, the Jefferson Awards Foundation is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service. In partnership with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, the award was granted to Harris by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Highmark Inc., and the BNY Mellon Corporation. Learn more about Pittsburgh’s Jefferson Awards program.

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