Our History

For nearly 90 years, NUCPS has maintained a reputation of excellence in Traffic Crash Investigation and Reconstruction, Law Enforcement Management & Leadership Education, and Police Motorcycle Instructor Training. In 1936, Northwestern established our department as the Traffic Safety Institute and named Evanston Police Lieutenant Franklin M. Kreml as our founding director.

Founding Director
Franklin Kreml

Kreml was a police officer with the Evanston Police Department (EPD). In 1926, to help support himself as a Northwestern undergrad, he became an officer at the EPD, where he quickly began to make an impact on the city's traffic safety. In 1932, he was named the division commander for the department's new Accident Prevention Bureau. He created standardized, effective practices in traffic accident investigation, developed a Police Officer's Traffic Safety training program, and forged productive relationships with faculty at Northwestern. The important results of the Accident Prevention Bureau's work caught the attention of Northwestern University and led to his appointment as Traffic Safety Institute's director. 

The Traffic Safety Institute quickly became a leader in traffic crash investigation and roadway safety. In fact, we literally “wrote the book” on traffic crash investigation and reconstruction with two textbooks that continue to set the standard for accident investigation professionals. We also helped to successfully lobby for the establishment of the Highway Safety Act of 1970, which created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The development of the School of Police Staff & Command was NUCPS' response to sweeping cultural and professional changes that occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Center's management program at the time was the Police Administration Training Program (aka PATP, or The Long Program). Established in 1938, PATP required officers to move to Evanston for the full Northwestern undergraduate academic year. By the late 1970s, directors at the Center understood that the 10-month Long Program was becoming untenable for both agency staffing requirements and for duel-income families. Created as an intensive, streamlined version of PATP, SPSC Class #1 was offered in 1983 in Evanston. The first off-campus program ran in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in Winter 1985. By 1993, SPSC programs were off and running coast-to-coast.

In 2014, the first SPSC Online class was offered, following the earlier rollout of Supervision of Police Personnel Online. While three of our crash investigation core sequence courses were online prior to 2020, the pandemic increased the urgency of delivering courses in an online or remote format. By August 2020, the final two core sequence classes went live in a remote-learning format. 

In 2000, in recognition of our diverse course offerings, Northwestern renamed the Traffic Institute as the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety (NUCPS).

While curricula, course formats, and class offerings may change, one thing that never changes is our dedication to excellence. 

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