The Violence Project LLC provides consulting, research, evaluation, and training on criminal justice issues. Our aim is to reduce levels of crime and violence in society.

On behalf of cities, counties, states, federal agencies, private and non-profit organizations, we collect and analyze data, conduct needs assessments, develop new programming, evaluate existing programming, and consult on internal processes and policies.

We provide bespoke training in the areas of police, courts, corrections, and community, on subject matter including mental illness, trauma, family violence, sexual violence and child exploitation, youth violence, street gangs, cyber violence, mass shootings, and violent extremism.

We are best known for our state-of-the-art, research-based, one-day mental illness and crisis training (The R-model: Research, Respond, Refer).



Jill and James bring almost 30 years combined teaching and research experience to The Violence Project.

Jillian PetersonJillian Peterson, PhD, launched her career as a special investigator in New York City, investigating the bio-psycho-social life histories of men facing the death penalty, which were used in their sentencing hearings. Jill has a Master’s in social ecology and a Doctorate in psychology and social behavior from the University of California, Irvine. She has led large-scale research studies on mental illness and crime, school shooting prevention strategies, and mass violence, which have received national media attention. She is a sought-after trainer and speaker on issues related to mental illness and violence, trauma, cyber-violence, the development of crime and violence, and forensic psychology. Jill is trained in restorative justice, violence mediation, crisis intervention, de-escalation, and suicide prevention.

James DensleyBorn and raised in England, James Densley, PhD, brings a global perspective to The Violence Project. James moved to Minnesota in 2010 after teaching in the New York City public schools and completing a Doctorate in sociology at the University of Oxford. Since then, he has quickly established himself as one of the world’s leading experts on street gangs and youth violence, and a prominent voice locally on issues of peace officer education and training. His work has attracted local, national, and international media attention. He is the author of the award-winning How Gangs Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and co-author of the textbook, Minnesota’s Criminal Justice System (Carolina Academic Press, 2016). His research examines how youth join gangs, leave gangs, and everything in between. He has also published on mass murder, murder-suicide, and cyber violence. He is a certified special education teacher.

Jill and James first met in 2013. Recognizing shared interests, they collaborated on research into cyber violence (published in Aggression and Violent Behaviorand group aggression (published in Current Issues in Psychology). They co-authored a chapter in an edited volume on aggression and violence, followed by a series of Op-Eds for CNN and The Star Tribune. Jill and James also co-faciliated a number of successful public and community forums and practitioner trainings about violence.

Jill, a psychologist, and James, a sociologist, found that by working together, they could bridge disciplinary divides and develop both a common language for understanding violence and a holistic approach to addressing it. At this time, The Violence Project was born.



On-site consulting         Off-site consulting        Keynote or brief speech

Half-day workshop        Full-day workshop         Certification training

Needs assessment       Staff assessment            Strategic planning

Focus groups                    Research briefs               Cost analysis

Program evaluation      Trial consulting               Expert witness testimony

Media commentary        Police investigation consulting



We train lawyers, police officers, corrections officers, probation and parole officers, educators, social workers, and more.  We can tailor our training programs to the specific needs and interests of your agency or organization.

  • Understanding and working with mental illness in the justice system
    • Certification program for recognizing and responding to  mental illness
    • Prevention and intervention programs
    • Evidence-based practices
  • De-escalation and crisis intervention (one-day certification program)
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide and self-harm
  • Reducing recidivism
  • What works in violence prevention and intervention
  • Gun violence
  • Gangs
  • Policing in the 21st Century
  • Psychology in the courtroom
  • Psychology of homicide
  • Psychopathy
  • Making a murder: Lessons from death row
  • Current issues in psychology and law
  • Sexual violence and sex offenders
  • Pathway to offending – early childhood to adult
  • Mass shootings
  • Social media and crime
  • False confessions


American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies
FBI Minneapolis
FBI Minneapolis Citizens Academy
Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center
Homicide Investigators Association
McGregor Independent School District
Metropolitan Police Service
Minnesota Association of Pretrial Agencies
Minnesota Association of Community Corrections Act Counties
Minnesota Community Corrections Association
Minnesota Department of Corrections
Minnesota Dispositional Advisers Office
Minnesota Juvenile Detention Association
Minnesota Office of Justice Programs
Minnesota Public Defenders
Minnesota Rotary Club
Minnesota Social Services Association
Minnesota Violent Crime Coordinating Council
Minnetonka Police Department
Washington County Community Corrections Department


The Crisis Project

We are currently developing a one-day, evidence-based, mental illness and crisis training for law enforcement professionals (The R-Model: Research, Respond, Refer). We are partnering with the Minnetonka Police Department.

Our state of the art program introduces new concepts and protocols, including how to quickly recognize the signs of a crisis, evidence-based crisis management strategies, connections with community resources, and agency-specific initiatives. This model includes trauma-informed care, cultural competency, and officer mental health.

Prior to administering the training, we can conduct stakeholder interviews, analyze crime data, and assess community needs and resources.  The one-day training model is tailored for specific agencies and delivered in-house.

The training meets the new Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) in-service learning objectives for Crisis Intervention, Mental Illness, and Conflict Management and Mediation.

The impact of this new training will be published and available April 2018.

If you are interested in bringing the R-Model to your agency, please contact us


Related Research

Is Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training evidence-based practice? A systematic review (forthcoming)

Understanding offenders with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system

Psychosis uncommonly and inconsistently precedes violence among high risk individuals

How often and how consistently is criminal behavior preceded by symptoms for offenders with mental illness?

Supervision practices in specialty mental health probation: What happens in officer-probationer meetings?

Identifying, treating, and reducing risk for offenders with mental illness

Toward research-informed policy for high risk offenders with serious mental illness

Correctional policy for offenders with mental illness: Creating a new paradigm for recidivism

Major risk factors for recidivism among offenders with mental illness

Analyzing offense patterns as a function of mental illness to test the criminalization hypothesis

Psychopathy in the criminal justice system

Psychopathy: What mental health professionals need to know


Related Press

Star Tribune:  How a Minnesota program could become the new standard in crisis intervention training.

Mass Violence Project

Gun Violence in America

The Violence Project has produced a 50 page comprehensive report on gun violence in America. This free report examines the history of guns in the United States, the prevalence of gun violence in our communities, trends in mass shootings, and the rise of “performance violence” in an age of social media. This report also analyses what works in gun violence prevention and intervention. Download here:

Issue Brief – Gun Violence in America

Densley, J. & Peterson, J. (2017). Gun violence in America. St. Paul, MN: The Violence Project LLC. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29196.00649


Mass Shooter Database

The Violence Project is currently building a database of public mass shooters in the United States from 1966 to 2017.  This extends the work of Grant Duwe, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, and others.  Based on an extensive content analysis, we are systematically coding offenders on 50 different psycho-social variables.  We aim to use statistical modeling to look for patterns in the data that can better inform research and policy.

Coming Spring 2018


Related Research

Developing an understanding of victims and violent offenders: The impact of fostering empathy

Training students to respond to shootings on campus: Is it worth it?

Homicide-suicide in China: An exploratory study of characteristics and types

The routine of mass murder in China


Related Press

Sandy Hook five years on: more awareness but still too little control, France 24.

Mass shootings aren’t more frequent—but they are deadlier, Associated Press.  Partial List:  ABC News;  Chicago Tribune;   Fox News;  Houston Chronicle;  LA Times;  Minnesota Public Radio;  Newsday;  New York Times;  San Francisco Chronicle;  Seattle Times;  St. Louis Post–Dispatch;  Washington Post;  Yahoo.

Both sides of gun debate wonder how to keep guns from those who shouldn’t have them, Washington Post.

Shootings drop in Minneapolis, but rounds fired are on the rise, Star Tribune.

Minnesota Researchers Create Mass Shooting Database, Associated Press. Partial List:  KSTP–TV;  Middletown Press;  Post Bulletin;  Register Citizen;  San Francisco Chronicle;  Seattle Times;  USA Today;  U.S. News and World Report;  Washington Times;  Winona Daily News.

“This Shooter is a Little Different”: Hamline Professor Studies Mass Shootings, Minnesota Public Radio.

Hamline Team Researches the Why Behind Mass Shootings, KARE 11.

How Common are Mass Shootings? WCCO.

Trying to Make Sense of Mass Shootings, KARE 11.

School Violence Project

The Violence Project offers consulting, education, and training services to school districts, K-12 schools, colleges and universities.  We work with educators at all levels (administrators, advisers, faculty, and staff) to understand and address the following:

  • Cyber-bullying and social media
  • Sexual violence and exploitation (rape, sexual harassment)
  • School–to–prison pipeline
  • Suicide awareness and prevention
  • Mental illness – early detection and treatment
  • Working with students who’ve experienced trauma
  • Working with students in crisis

Contact us to schedule.


Related Research

Cyber violence: What do we know and where do we go from here?

Broadcasting badness: Violence, identity, and performance in the online gang rap scene

‘Going viral’ and ‘Going country’: The expressive and instrumental activities of street gangs on social media

If you want to know, consider asking: How likely is it that a patient will hurt themselves in the future?

Sexual violence and child exploitation in street gangs

Girls and gangs: Preventing multiple perpetrator rape