Each month, the Office of Sponsored Programs will spotlight a different PI and their research. If you are interested in being featured in our next spotlight, please email  . Please be sure to provide us with an abstract (3-5 paragraphs) about your research, explanation of your recent project, the amount your project (s) were funded for, special events that you are hosting or coordinating, obstacles or challenges you faced during the application process, if applicable, and a photo of yourself .   

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Joshua Freilich

Dr. Joshua D. Freilich is a Professor in the Criminal Justice Department  and the Criminal Justice PhD Program at John Jay College. He is the chair (2017-19)  of the American Society of Criminology's (ASC) Division on Terrorism and Bias Crimes (DTBC).

He is the Creator (with Steven Chermak, Michigan State University) of the Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), an open source relational database on the perpetrators, victims, events, and group characteristics of crimes committed by extremists in the United States since 1990. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) supported the creation of the ECDB and has maintained it since 2005. Freilich and colleagues have used the ECDB to study key domestic terrorism issues in recent years including suicide terrorism, lone wolves, honor killings, spatial variation in attacks, foiled plots, hate crimes, and the efficacy of counter-terrorism policies. Recent ECDB research has appeared in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Criminology & Public Policy, Crime and Delinquency, Terrorism and Political Violence, and Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. Eight PhD students have completed their doctoral dissertations using ECDB data, five additional PhD dissertations using ECDB data are in progress, and well over 100 unique students have received research experience working as research assistants.

Last year Freilich and Chermak worked with the General Accounting Office (GAO) as they carried out Congress’s instructions to investigate the reliability of the federal government’s Countering Violent Extremism efforts. The GAO released its report in April 2017, and it used ECDB data to contextualize far-right and jihadist violence in the U.S:

Freilich is currently involved in six funded projects: (1) He is the PI on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant ($340,000) ending this year that maintains the ECDB and also expands its coverage to foiled plots; (2) Freilich is Co-PI (with PI Demis Glasford) on a DHS grant ($1,000,000) that just began that, in addition to supporting the ECDB, Dr. Glasford’s research and two other research areas, will train eight undergraduate students to conduct research; (3) He is the PI on a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant ($700,000) that is using open sources to create the first of its kind school shooting database in the U.S. This project will compare deadly to non-deadly attacks to devise intervention techniques; (4) Freilich is also co-PI on a NIJ grant ($696,000) that is examining why individuals enter hate groups or are radicalized to violent extremism; (5) He is Co-PI on another NIJ grant ($586,000) that examines how extremists use the Internet and social media; and (6) Freilich is Co-PI on a DHS grant ($500,000) that was recently selected, though funding is pending. This project will use open sources to create the first of its kind cyber-terrorism database.

Freilich is currently co-authoring an article with Gary LaFree (University of Maryland) on governmental policies for countering violent extremism that is scheduled to be published in 2019 in the Annual Review of Criminology. His other research examines situational crime prevention (SCP) in general, and its application to terrorism in particular. Recent research in this area has been published in Crime and Delinquency (with Marissa Mandala), and the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (with Graeme Newman). Freilich is also currently co-editing (with Graeme Newman) a special issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on the use of SCP to respond to crime with civil regulations, as opposed to the regular criminal justice system. This issue will be published in 2018.