VERMILLION, S.D. – As South Dakota and the nation debate questions about police conduct, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Tom Mrozla is ready to contribute his expertise.
Mrozla, who completed his Ph.D. at North Dakota State University last May, joined the University of South Dakota Department of Political Science in August 2018. His research interests are police accountability, police misconduct, and rural policing. His current research examines at how police investigate officer misconduct and how policies can shape officer behavior.
“I am fascinated by the implications the field [of criminal justice] has for society in the areas of police, courts and corrections,” Mrozla said. “I am also intrigued by the unique position that police occupy in society.”
As a doctoral candidate at NDSU, Mrozla watched the oil boom in the Bakken region of western North Dakota. The population growth provided him an opportunity to study community perceptions of policing in Williston as well as how rapid growth changed policing practices and strategies.
“As academics, we have the responsibility to not only create knowledge but help students understand the body of knowledge that has been created,” he said. “I think USD does an exceptional job achieving that and I want to be part of it.”
At USD, Mrozla teaches Policing in a Free Society and Introduction to Corrections. In spring 2019 he will teach Police Administration and Advanced Issues in Policing, expanding the Department’s expertise.
One of his goals is to increase student participation in research and professional development opportunities. At NDSU, Mrozla led a campus-wide survey of students, faculty and staff that investigated the community’s perceptions of policy, fear of crime, and sense of personal safety on campus.
“I chose USD as a place to start my career because of the value that is placed on research, teaching and service,” Mrozla said.
Already Mrozla and his family have settled into life in Vermillion.
“When I am not doing research, teaching or preparing to teach, I am following the interests of our two-year-old daughter,” Mrozla said. “As a result, I have gotten into painting and drawing with ultra-washable paint and markers as well as other activities meant for young children.”
A native of Fargo, ND and a lifelong resident of the upper Great Plains, Mrozla is no stranger to Vermillion’s winter weather. “I have lived in the third and second coldest cities in America,” he noted.