Vinson Fellow to explore law enforcement recruitment and retention

October 12, 2017 | Students

By Jesse Kerzner

Jesse Kerzner

Vinson Fellow to explore law enforcement recruitment and retention

I cannot express enough how thankful I am to be part of such an incredible opportunity. I have been itching to get involved at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government since I first heard about its goals and values as a first-year student. I strive to constantly improve and understand the world around me, and I feel like there is no better place to do that than here. Although I am just in the beginning of my research, I am already giddy about what’s to come.

I recently came off one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. I had the privilege of serving as an orientation leader for the UGA Office of Undergraduate Admissions this past summer. It reinforced my belief about the importance of public service in my life and allowed me to interact with all different types of people.

Additionally, I am passionate about travel and have studied abroad and traveled to a variety of countries ranging from Israel to Brazil, and I look forward to adding Australia to the list this winter. Recently, with all the controversy surrounding law enforcement, I have been motivated to learn more about the most prominent issues facing the field of criminal justice.

As a Vinson Fellow, I will be conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Mark Foster, a senior public service associate with the Institute. To have the chance to learn from Dr. Foster is invaluable, as he is very knowledgeable when it comes to the individuals that make up law enforcement. He currently focuses on creating and providing specialized assessments for officer promotion to a wide range of different agencies across the Southeast.

I am eager to tackle the challenge of exploring the reasons for the current shortage of police officers in the United States, and more specifically the shortage of officers in the State of Georgia. After collecting adequate background on the issue, analyzing data, conducting interviews and reviewing the literature, I hope to explore some ideas that might suggest possible solutions.

I will be looking at issues concerning recruitment, retention, the changing role of law enforcement and areas for improvement. Dr. Foster has been crucial in connecting me to great resources. For example, I recently had a phone interview with Randy Robertson, a 30-year law enforcement veteran and president of the Fraternal Order of Police Georgia State Lodge. Additionally, I will be attending a few meetings with Dr. Foster at the State Capitol next week.

With the gracious assistance of Dr. Foster, it is my aspiration to help find ways to answer the question, “How can we encourage people to be law enforcement officers again?”

Jesse Kerzner is a senior International Affairs and Criminal Justice major with a minor in Spanish. From Raleigh, N.C., he is a member of The Arch Society and Leadership UGA, an adviser to freshmen in the Student Government Association and a graduate of  UGA’s LeaderShape Institute. His  research interests include strategic intelligence, international law, comparative politics and the intersection of immigration and crime.