About Us

The Violence Project LLC provides 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 tailored 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 work on public mass shootings, funded by the National Institute of Justice, and our mental illness and crisis intervention training.

Founder, Psychologist

Founder, Sociologist

Our Story

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

Jillian Peterson, PhD, launched her career as a special investigator in New York City, interrogating the psycho-social life histories of men facing the death penalty, which were used in their sentencing hearings. Since then, 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, and forensic psychology. Jill earned her Master’s in social ecology and Doctorate in psychology and social behavior from the University of California, Irvine. She is also trained in restorative justice, violence mediation, crisis intervention, de-escalation, and suicide prevention.

Born and raised in England, James Densley, PhD, brings a international perspective to The Violence Project. James moved to Minnesota in 2010 after earning his teaching licensure, teaching special education in the New York City public schools, and completing master's and doctorate degrees 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. James' work has attracted global 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). James has also written for The Guardian, HuffPost, Salon, and The Wall Street Journal, among other outlets. Beyond gangs, he has published on mass murder, murder-suicide, and cyber violence.

Jill and James first met in 2013. Recognizing shared interests, they collaborated on research into cyber violence (published in Aggression and Violent Behavior) and 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-facilitated 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.