Criminal Justice professor to be published by Oxford University Press

Luke William Hunt
Luke William Hunt

Over the last four years, former FBI special agent and current Radford University Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Luke William Hunt wrote a book about the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary police practices and policies.

Many of the topics in “The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing” originated when Hunt entered New Agent Training at Quantico and became an FBI agent. At the time, Hunt had no plan to pursue a career in academia, but the book’s ideas were floating around his head when he left the government to complete his doctoral work at the University of Virginia.

In the book, Hunt explores the police’s use of informants, use of sanctioned law-breaking (or “otherwise illegal activity”) and use of surveillance.

“The book is about the moral limits of contemporary police practices given the basic tenets of liberalism, which is a political philosophy based upon liberty and equality that developed during the Age of Enlightenment and was made famous by people such as John Locke," Hunt said. “I think these are issues that are relevant to all of us as citizens.”

Hunt fleshed out these topics on mountain trails in central and southwest Virginia. A hobby of Hunt’s is to trail run in isolated places.

“Many of the book’s ideas were developed while trail running,” he said. “When I finished my run, there was always a mad dash to put my ideas on paper.”

Although some of the ideas for the book originated during Hunt’s tenure as a special agent, he expanded his research to other jurisdictions, including police functions at the local and state levels.

Cover of “The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing.”
Cover of “The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing.”

“The police fulfill a variety of roles beyond fighting crime because they’re also emergency operators, social peacekeepers and so on,” Hunt said. “Law enforcement is perhaps the police’s central role and it’s the focus of my book, but the police do much more than that.  I explored other police roles during my research, especially roles that the FBI doesn’t typically fulfill.”

Inside the classroom, the book will be used to stimulate discussion of policing principles and theories to both graduate and undergraduate students.

“The chapter on surveillance has already given my graduate students the opportunity to both pick apart my work and examine legal and philosophical trends relating to privacy and discretion,” he said. “Recent cases relating to surveillance have raised a host of philosophical issues regarding the limits of the police’s power, from basic values such as the rule of law to questions about the extent of the executive’s prerogative power to break the law.”

The artwork for the cover of “The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing” is a portrait of a police constable from the 1930s by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. The portrait resides in a museum in England.

"I had a clear vision of what I wanted on the cover, and I was fortunate to receive permission to use the portrait from the artist’s estate,” Hunt said.

“The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing” is being published by Oxford University Press and is scheduled to be released on Oct. 15.

Jul 30, 2018
Max Esterhuizen