Faculty Spotlight: Rachel Santos

Dr. Rachel Santos accepting an “Award of Appreciation: Research Partnership" from the Port St. Lucie, FL Police Department for collaboration and research between 2004 and 2016.

A perfect storm of factors led Professor Rachel Santos to the Criminal Justice department at Radford University.

Santos previously worked as a professor for 13 years at a state university in Southeast Florida. Once her husband, Roberto Santos, earned his Ph.D. and was eligible to retire from policing from a large Florida police department, the couple began looking for opportunities to work in academics together.

“We have been doing police research together for about 10 years and have been talking for the last few years about working together in a university,” said Rachel Santos. “When we did our research on Radford University, the Criminal Justice department and the area, we were impressed with the mission of the university, the beauty of the campus and the New River Valley, as well as the quality of Criminal Justice faculty and it being a program of distinction.”

Rachel Santos was hired as a tenured professor focusing on research and Roberto Santos was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor, both in the Department of Criminal justice, at Radford University.

Rachel Santos has authored dozens of peer reviewed academic journal articles, book chapters, professional articles and grant research reports during her career. She has also received over $4 million in grant funding. Additionally, Santos authored what is considered the go-to book on crime analysis.

“While in graduate school, I was a civilian crime analyst in a police department in Arizona,” Santos said. “The lack of literature and research about the foundations and practice of crime analysis at that time led me to write my book, ‘Crime Analysis with Crime Mapping.’”

The book, currently the most widely used crime analysis textbook by both students and practitioners, is in its fourth edition and has been translated into multiple languages.   

Drs. Roberto (left) and Rachel (center) Santos on a Bureau of Justice Assistance, Smart Policing Conference panel of experts.

“I wrote the book because at the time there was little documentation of the field or instruction for students or working crime analysts,” Santos said. “By writing the first textbook on the subject, I have been able to influence the field by creating standards for practice and establishing a common language for the profession.”

Santos believes that her influence on the field, as well as her professional experience, will positively impact Radford’s students.

“In all my classes - whether they are at the undergraduate or graduate level - I treat both the classroom and students as if we were in a criminal justice agency,” Santos said. “I also involve students in my research whereever possible to give them hands-on experience.”

Drs. Roberto and Rachel Santos (3 and 4, front-left) travelled to South America to train and assist the Montevideo, Uruguay Police Department with implementing Evidence-Based Policing Practices with support from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2014 and 2015.

Each one of Santos’ lectures and assignments focuses on application of concepts and real-life practices.

Santos is looking forward to the research opportunities available at Radford University and in the New River Valley.

“My research focuses both on conducting evidence-based research through experimental and quasi-experimental research, as well as on practice-based research which is evaluating the implementation of evidence-based practices within the criminal justice system,” Santos said.

Santos has also assisted police agencies in crime analysis for the last 20 years.

“This has been through training analysts one agency at a time, training groups of analysts together, presenting at training conferences and through both federal and state grants focused on technical assistance for crime analysis,” Santos said.  

Both Rachel and Roberto Santos assist police agencies across the U.S. and consider working with local agencies important.

“Working with local agencies is a very high priority for us, whether it is to assist them with resources and training or to conduct meaningful research and evaluation,” Rachel Santos said. “We are already reaching out to local agencies to schedule meetings with their chiefs to introduce ourselves so we can start developing partnerships.”    

Sep 20, 2016
Max Esterhuizen
(540) 831-7749