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David A. Harris

David A. Harris

John E. Murray Faculty Scholar
Professor of Law
(412) 648-9530

High-Resolution Photo

David Harris studies, writes and teaches about police behavior and regulation, law enforcement, and national security issues and the law. Professor Harris is the leading national authority on racial profiling. His 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work, and his scholarly articles in the field of traffic stops of minority motorists and stops and frisks, influenced the national debate on profiling and related topics. His work led to federal efforts to address the practice and to legislation and voluntary efforts in over half the states and hundreds of police departments. He has testified three times in the U.S. Senate and before many state legislative bodies on profiling and related issues. His 2005 book, Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing, uses case studies from around the country to show that citizens need not trade liberty for safety; they can be safe from criminals and terrorists without sacrificing their civil rights if law enforcement uses strategies based on prevention. He gives speeches and does professional training for law enforcement, judges, and attorneys throughout the country, and presents his work regularly in academic conferences.

Professor Harris also writes and comments frequently in the media on police practices, racial profiling, and other criminal justice and national security issues. He has appeared on The Today Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. In 1996, Professor Harris served as a member of the Civil Liberties Advisory Board to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Before he began teaching in 1990, Professor Harris was a public defender in the Washington, D.C. area, a litigator at a law firm in Philadelphia, and law clerk to Federal Judge Walter K. Stapleton in Wilmington, Delaware.

LLM, Georgetown University
JD, Yale Law School
BA, Northwestern University


Books and Chapters:

  • Profiling Unmasked: From Criminal Profiling to Racial Profiling, Alexander Papachristou, ed., Blind Goddess: A Reader on Race and Justice 49 (New Press, 2011). 
  • Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing, (New Press, 2005).
  • Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work, (New Press, 2003).


  • Immigration and National Security: The Illusion of Safety Through Local Law Enforcement Action, 28 Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law 2 (2011). 
  • Picture This: Body Worn Video Devices ('Head Cams') as Tools for Ensuring Fourth Amendment Compliance by Police, Texas Tech Law Review, (Forthcoming). Available on SSRN.
  • On the Contemporary Meaning of Korematsu: 'Liberty Lies in the Hearts of Men and Women', 76 Missouri Law Review 1 (Winter 2011). Available on SSRN.
  • Taser Use: Report of the Use of Force Working Group of Allegheny County (November 10, 2009), 71 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 719 (2010). Available on SSRN.
  • Law Enforcement and Intelligence Gathering in Muslim and Immigrant Communities After 9/11, 34 New York University Review of Law & Social Change (2010). Available on SSRN.
  • Book Review: "Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice." 25.1 Criminal Justice 44 (2010). Available on SSRN.
  • David A. Harris, How Accountability-Based Policing Can Reinforce - Or Replace - The Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 7, 2009. Available on SSRN
  • Law Enforcement and Intelligence Gathering in Muslim and Immigrant Communities After 9/11, 34 New York University Review of Law & Social Change 1 (2009).  Available on SSRN.
  • The Importance of Research on Race and Policing: Making Race Salient to Individuals and Institutions Within Criminal Justice, 6 Criminology & Public Policy 5 (2007). Available on SSRN.
  • How the Commander in Chief Power Swallowed the Rest of the Constitution, 26 Criminal Justice Ethics 44 (2007). Available on SSRN.
  • The War on Terror, Local Police, and Immigration Enforcement: A Curious Tale of Police Power in Post-9/11 America , 38 Rutgers L. J. 1 (2006). Available on SSRN.
  • Using Race or Ethnicity as a Factor in Assessing the Reasonableness of Fourth Amendment Activity: Description, Yes: Prediction, No (Symposium: The Permissibility of Race or Ethnicity as a Factor in Assessing the Reasonableness of a Search or Seizure) , 73 Miss. L. J. 423 (2003).
  • New Risk, New Tactics: An Assessment of the Re-Assessment of Racial Profiling In the Wake of September 11, 2001, 2004 Utah L. Rev. 913 (2004).
  • Teaching Criminal Law in the Post-9/11 World: If Everything Has Changed, So Must We, 48 St. Louis U. L. J. 1249 (2004). 
  • The Reality of Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice: The Significance of Data Collection, 66 Law & Contemp. Probs. 71 (2003).
  • Racial Profiling Redux, (Symposium: New Approaches to Ensuring the Legitimacy of Police Conduct), 22 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 73 (2003).


  • Lead U.S. Speaker, “Roundtable on Current Debates, Research Agendas, and Strategies to Address Racial Disparities in Police-Initiated Stops in the UK and USA,” John Jay College of Criminal Justice, (Aug. 2011).
  • Speaker, “Roundtable on Stop and Frisk Practices in the U.S.,” Convened by The Urban Institute, (Sept. 2011).
  • Speaker, “Pragmatism vs. Theory in Developing Police Accountability Systems,” Control of Police Misconduct in a Post-Exclusionary World: Can It Be Done?, St. Louis Univ. School of Law, (Feb. 2012).
  • “Racial Profiling and Muslims: Creating Real Safety and Security Through Intelligent Law Enforcement,” Univ. of Illinois College of Law, (March 2012).
  • Presenter, “The Impact of Profiling on Muslim Americans,” Muslim Americans and Civil Society, (April 2012). 

Awards and Honors

  • Excellence in Teaching Award (2009)

Selected Professional Activities

  • Facilitator/Advisor, U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Civil Rights and Law Enforcement.
  • Expert Panel Witness, U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Hearing: 21st Century Policing: How Smart Policing Targets Criminal Behavior Testimony: Why Smart Policing Means Building Partnerships Between Police and the Communities They Serve.
  • U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, Testimony: “Ending Racial Profiling in America”.
  • Consultant, U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Speaker, Speech on Racial Profiling for the Twentieth Century Club.
  • Speaker for Allegheny Co. Bar Assn. Young Lawyers Division Event, (Feb. 2012).