Chuck Wexler    


Chuck Wexler is Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF),  an organization of law enforcement officials and others dedicated to improving the professionalism of policing.  Executive Director since 1993, he leads a staff engaged in policing research, management studies and consulting for police agencies, publication of books and reports on critical issues in policing, police executive education, and policy development.

Under Wexler’s leadership, PERF has studied a wide range of issues confronting the policing profession:

  • Reform police agencies’ policies, training, and equipment regarding police use of force: Based on the idea that the sanctity of human life is at the heart of the mission of policing, PERF has conducted research into re-engineering police training on use of force, released a set of Guiding Principles on Use of Force, and published a training guide called ICAT (Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics) to help police agencies put the Guiding Principles into effect.
  • In 2019 PERF developed a protocol to help officers identify and defuse “suicide by cop” situations as part of their overall ICAT training;
  • Strategies for rebuilding police-community trust;
  • Recommendations for police agencies considering body-worn cameras;
  • The heroin epidemic in many American communities;
  • The role of local police agencies in preventing and investigating cybercrime;
  • The response to critical incidents in Baltimore and St. Louis;
  • Mass shootings and the police response to “active shooter” situations; 
  • U.S. Justice Department investigations of local police departments regarding civil rights violations; 
  • De-escalation of potentially dangerous encounters between police officers and persons with mental illness; 
  • Gun violence prevention; 
  • New technologies that are changing the nature of policing, such as security cameras, license plate readers, and crime analytics software;
  • Police management of large-scale demonstrations and other major events;
  • Improving the police handling of sexual assault investigations;
  • Guidelines on police use of Electronic Control Weapons (2005 and 2011);
  • Immigration policy: Since 2007, PERF has made the issue of immigration a top organizational priority. PERF has held national and regional meetings across the country and has developed points of consensus among police executives regarding the role of local police on immigration policy.

Wexler also has been directly involved in projects to improve the delivery of police services. As long ago as the 1990s, when the city of Minneapolis faced unprecedented increases in violent crime, Wexler helped develop and implement a comprehensive anti-crime strategy that is now a model for public-private cooperation. Wexler has worked in Chicago to reduce juvenile homicides in some of the city's most troubled areas and improve coordination between police and public schools. He has been involved in crime-reduction and policing projects in Kansas City; Los Angeles; Northern Ireland; Kingston, Jamaica; London; Tanzania; and the Middle East.

In recent years, Wexler has forged close relationships between U.S. law enforcement leaders and their colleagues in Police Scotland, with an emphasis on leadership development and best practices in police use of force.

Wexler also oversaw PERF’s analysis of the investigation into the “Beltway Sniper” incidents of 2002, serving as co-author of PERF’s report, Managing Multijurisdictional Cases: Lessons Learned from the Sniper Investigation.

In addition, Wexler worked with the best-selling business management writer, Jim Collins, to adapt Collins’ research to public-sector agencies like police departments. A PERF report on this project, Good to Great Policing: Application of Business Management Principles in the Public Sector, was co-authored by Wexler.

Over the years, Wexler has tackled a number of controversial, high-profile issues in policing:

  • Gates/Crowley Incident: In 2010, Wexler chaired the Cambridge Review Committee, a 12-member panel created to identify lessons for police departments nationwide from an incident involving the 2009 arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home.
  • Immigration Enforcement Policy: In 2011, he chaired the Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force on Secure Communities, which provided recommendations on federal immigration enforcement practices.
  • Policing in the Middle East: Since early 2012, Wexler and a group of PERF leaders have been facilitating an unprecedented series of joint discussions by the top officials of the Israeli Police and the Palestinian Civil Police, with the cooperation of Jordan.

A native of Boston, Wexler held a number of key positions in the Boston Police Department. As operations assistant to the Police Commissioner, he played a central role in the agency’s efforts to prevent racial violence in the wake of court-ordered desegregation of the Boston school system. He was also instrumental in the development and management of the Community Disorders Unit, which earned a national reputation for successfully prosecuting and preventing racially motivated crime. Prior to joining PERF, Wexler worked as an assistant to the nation’s first Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Wexler has a bachelor's degree from Boston University, a master’s degree in criminology from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has taught undergraduate courses at MIT and was a visiting assistant professor at Bowdoin College. Wexler has authored journal articles and newspaper opinion pieces, and he is a frequent participant in policing conferences and panels.

In February 2006, Wexler was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his extensive work with British and American police agencies. In 2016, he was selected by Politico Magazine as one of the “Politico 50,” an annual list of “thinkers, doers and dreamers” who are changing America.