University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Alumni Awards Evening

George L. Kelling


kelling BA Philosophy `56 from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota;Theology Studies `56-`58 from Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary; MSW Social Work `62 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; PhD Social Welfare `73 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Meet George Kelling through his award video spotlight

Emeritus Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University; Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; and Professor Emeritus, College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University

George began his employment as a childcare counselor and probation officer.  Due to his interest in civic responsibility and public safety, he turned his attention to the criminal justice system. His research has had an immeasurable impact on the creation of effective crime reduction strategies nationally and internationally.  He co-wrote, with Professor James Q. Wilson, one of the most significant and influential pieces of criminological research ever produced titled “The Police and Neighborhood Safety: Broken Windows.”  This article is considered a classic in police literature.  It has fundamentally changed the way police do their work, especially in large urban environments, rethinking police tactics from reactive to a preventative approach.

He collected his facts and developed his theories by working in the streets, neighborhoods and police cars in some of the toughest neighborhoods in America.  His ideas on how police can become more engaged in their communities to significantly address crime are so profound that there is not one major city in the country that has not adopted them in the reorganization of their police departments.  

During his academic career at Rutgers, Northeastern, and Harvard, George taught and mentored a generation of masters and doctoral students, who have gone on to influential positions of policing.  He taught all of his students a valuable lesson: get out in the field and understand first-hand what is happening.  To do so, his students had to develop the skills to build trust and establish relationships with criminal justice agencies and community groups.  He also required that the students’ research projects “give something back” to the agency that helped them.

George’s ideas have been among the most influential in his field.  He has consulted with numerous major police departments in the United States, along with Australian, British, South American and Canadian police departments and oversight agencies.