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Why Choose NUCPS?

A Message from the Executive Director

David BradfordWith thousands of former students engaged in law enforcement and traffic safety professions around the globe, NUCPS has earned the reputation as the worldwide leader in law enforcement professional development and education. At last count, more than 550 police chiefs, sheriffs and directors of state policing agencies currently serving in the United States are graduates of NUCPS. We conduct classes and research projects not only in North America, but also in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa.

Our commitment to excellence is stronger than ever. Our values and mission statement continue to drive us to provide the highest quality training and education to those who commit their lives to preserving the peace and serving others. As a student you deserve nothing less. You will find our programs challenging and rewarding. We will bring out the best in you and provide the educational tools to enable you to maximize your knowledge, skills and abilities. I invite you to become part of an elite, one hundred thousand-strong cadre of public service professionals making a global impact on public safety.

David Bradford
Executive Director

NUCPS Mission Statement


  • public safety organizations and other entities


  • setting the standard for quality education with real-world application,
  • being the industry-leading resource regarding public safety issues, and
  • initiating and sustaining connections among professionals; thereby


  • the development of public safety professionals at all stages of their careers and contributing to the


  • of a safer society

A Brief History of NUCPS

In 1904, the City of Evanston, due to the number of automobiles already in the community, established an eight mile per hour speed limit on city streets in an effort to regulate traffic in the interest of public safety.  In what was named a "speed trap" by one local writer, officers from the Evanston Police Department (EPD) hid in the bushes and timed passing automobiles with stop watches as they drove between two tape markers placed on the pavement. Despite these early efforts, traffic crashes became a problem, and in 1927, Evanston was ranked fifth in the nation in traffic crashes and fatalities, many of which involved pedestrians.

Recognizing the tragic impact upon families and communities resulting from such high crash rates, Franklin M. Kreml, then a young Evanston police officer and full-time undergraduate student at Northwestern, led the effort to address the issue. In 1929, EPD established the Accident Prevention Bureau under then-Sgt. Kreml's direction. The Bureau developed a traffic safety model that brought together research, education, engineering, and enforcement, which resulted in Evanston being declared "America’s Safest City" by the National Safety Council. In 1936, Northwestern University established the Traffic Safety Institute with Lt. Kreml as its founding director. The Institute also became -- and served concurrently as -- the operating arm of the first Traffic Safety Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The Traffic Institute quickly became the world leader in traffic crash investigation, prevention and police management and has maintained that reputation ever since. In fact, NUCPS literally “wrote the book” on crash investigation and reconstruction, and its textbooks continue to set the standard for crash investigators around the world.

In addition to education, NUCPS helped to successfully lobby for the establishment of the Highway Safety Act of 1970 which created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Today, we continue to be part of national efforts to develop highway design standards that maximize safety, to identify and evaluate strategies to combat impaired driving, and to identify and highlight model traffic service personnel and programs among the nation’s law enforcement agencies. For more than two decades, NUCPS has partnered with Harley Davidson to educate law enforcement professionals in safe motorcycle operation techniques.

The world has changed significantly since our founding in 1936; however, the need for solid, cutting-edge education has not. NUCPS built on the Traffic Institute's tradition of excellence by expanding the scope of our programs to include a comprehensive offering of crash investigation and transportation engineeringpolice training and operations, and management courses. NUCPS conducts these educational programs not only in North America but also in the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa and continues to expand into other international markets. To reflect this expanded mission, the Traffic Institute was renamed the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety in 2000.

In recognition of NUCPS's dedication to public safety, City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed Sunday, October 23, 2011, as “Northwestern University Center for Public Safety Day.”

NU Transportation Library

In 1959, the Northwestern University Traffic Institute (now the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety) merged its library holdings with those of the Northwestern University Transportation Library. Today, the Transportation Library has the largest private collection of transportation, highway traffic control, highway safety and criminal justice literature in the country. Increasing by approximately 6,000 items every year, the Transportation Library's collection now includes over 155,000 books, technical reports, pamphlets, government documents, doctoral dissertations, newsletters, journals and periodicals; over 85,000 documents are stored on microform. The Transportation Library is also a regional center in the national network of transportation research information services (TRISNET).

A staff of professional librarians is available to assist NUCPS faculty and students in literature searches, bibliographic studies, and acquisition of hard-to-locate materials and documents. The library is a routine subscriber to abstracting services and electronic bibliographic retrieval services. The librarians' daily familiarity with such services, and specialized knowledge of the subject matter, greatly facilitates the acquisition of writings that have had a limited distribution. Such library capabilities are vital to NUCPS's research and publication programs, providing essential information regarding police training, public safety administration, criminal justice, and traffic engineering.

Visit the NU Transportation Library >>

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