Michael Smith

Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Texas at San Antonio

Areas of Expertise

  • Crime, law and public policy
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Racial profiling
  • Traffic stops

Key Findings

  • Broken down by race, individuals arrested on drug charges in Seattle were 53.3% Black followed by 33.6% White, 6% Asian, 4.4% Hispanic, and 2.4% Native American. MORE
  • More than 21% of drug offenders had multiple drug charges. MORE
  • City wide, Blacks and Hispanics were about 1.5 and 1.4 times less likely to be arrested when compared to Whites. MORE
  • City wide, Whites were 1.2 times more likely to be arrested for drug offenses. MORE
  • In downtown Seattle, Blacks and Whites were both arrested at nearly identical rates and Hispanics were 1.4 times less likely to be arrested. MORE
  • In Capitol Hill, Blacks and Hispanics were 1.2 and 1.1 times less likely to be arrested than their White counterparts. MORE
  • White, Black, and Asian civilians were overrepresented as subjects of force, and Hispanic civilians were underrepresented. MORE
  • Policing in the United States is at an inflection point not before seen in the nation’s history in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police in the spring of 2020. MORE


Michael R. Smith, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is an expert in law enforcement agencies, racial profiling and traffic stops.

He previously served as a former municipal and county policy officer. Over his 20 year career as a police scholar and criminal justice researcher, Smith served as a principal investigator on many extramural grants and research contracts. With funding from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), he led the most comprehensive investigation to date on the use of force by police and injuries to officers and citizens. He is a nationally-recognized expert on racial profiling and use of force and led or contributed to large-scale traffic or pedestrian stop data analysis efforts in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, FL, Richmond, VA, and with state highway patrol agencies in Washington and Arizona. He is currently a co-principal investigator on an NIJ-funded, randomized controlled evaluation of a police training initiative to reduce conflict and the use of force between police and citizens. In 2016, he served as the senior research lead to the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office-led police collaborative reform initiative in San Francisco and previously served as a statistical and methodological consultant to the Special Litigation Section of the USDOJ where he pioneered methodologies to help inform courts, communities and law enforcement agencies about disparities in police stop practices.

He has written extensively about these and other critical issues at the intersection of law, public policy, and policing.  His most recent publications have appeared in Justice Quarterly,Criminology & Public Policy, and Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management.

Dr. Smith holds a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University.