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Dr. Sara Thompson

JOR 832
416-979-5000 Ext. 552092


Dr. Sara Thompson holds a BA (Hons.), MA, and Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching interests fall in the areas of social inequality, exclusion and marginalization, the social and spatial distribution of urban violence, policing, hate crime, ‘pathways’ to radicalization/violent extremism, and the negative effects that state-based policies and practices may have on those directly affected by them. She has been with the Department of Criminology since 2008. From 2014-2023 Thompson served as Associate Director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), which engages in policy-relevant research and dissemination on issues related to terrorism/violent extremism, security and society. Thompson is currently co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Ajay Sandhu) of a three-year project entitled “Reducing the Excessive Use of Force and Increasing Police Transparency and Accountability: Examining the Impact of Body Worn Cameras for Achieving Social Justice Ends” funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant.

Thompson also currently serves as Steering Committee Member of the International Radicalization Prevention Team (ITERP) (2018-ongoing); Academic Advisor to Yorktown Family Services/West Toronto Youth Hub (2019-ongoing); Academic Advisor to Toronto Public Health’s ongoing Community Violence Initiative examining the extent of exposure to community violence and its physical and mental health impacts in Toronto (2019-ongoing); Committee Member – Toronto Police Service Community Advisory Panel on the Collection of Race-Based Data – 2020-2023); Co-creator/lecturer/facilitator – Hate Crime/Violent Extremism Advanced Investigators Course – Ontario Police College (2016-ongoing); co-Chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Research Advisory Committee (2018-ongoing); and Vice Chair of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee. She has presented on her research at a range of domestic and international academic and practitioner conferences and has briefed high level government and police officials on issues related to urban violence, hate crime, terrorism/violent extremism, and program evaluation. One of the key drivers of her work is the desire to inform effective, legally responsible and socially engaged violence-prevention policies and programs.


Univeristy Degree
University of Toronto Ph.D.
University of Toronto MA
University of Toronto BA (Hons)


Course Code Course Title
CRM 318 Violence and Communities
CRM 300 Policing
CR 8204 Graduate Security Threats

Selected Publications

  • Sara K. Thompson, Michele Grossman & Paul Thomas. (2023). “Needs, Rights and Systems: Increasing Canadian Intimate Bystander Reporting on Radicalizing to Violence.” Terrorism and Political Violence. DOI 10.1080/09546553.2023.2188964.
  • Sara K. Thompson (2023). “Policing Violent Extremism in North America.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press.
  • Sara K. Thompson (2023). “Polarization, Violent Extremism and Resilience-led Responses in Canada.” In McNeil-Willson, R. and Triandafyllidou, A. (Eds.). Handbook on Violent Extremism and Resilience. London: Routledge.
  • Aryan Karimi, Sara K. Thompson & Sandra Bucerius. (2022). “Context of Racialized Assimilation: A Case of Second-Generation Somali Canadians. Ethnic and Racial Studies 46(5): 875-897.
  • Sandra Bucerius, Sara K. Thompson & David T. Dunford (2022). "Collective Memory and collective forgetting: A comparative analysis of second generation Somali and Tamil immigrants and their stance on homeland politics and conflict." Qualitative Sociology. DIO 10.1007/s11133-022-09508-4
  • Sara K. Thompson, Michele Grossman & Paul Thomas. (2022). Final Report - Community Reporting Thresholds Sharing Information with Authorities Concerning Violent Extremism Activity or Involvement in Foreign Conflicts: A Canadian Replication Study. Prepared for Public Safety Canada’s Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. 114 pages.
  • Sara K. Thompson & Elisabeth Leroux. (2022). "Lessons Learned from Dual Site Formative Evaluations of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programming co-Led by Canadian Police." Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism. DOI: 10.1080/18335330.3033.3040741
  • Ajay Sandhu & Sara K. Thompson. (2021). “What (We Think) We Know About Body Cams: The Need for Canadian Research Examining How Officers Operate Body Worn Cameras.” Police Chief Magazine. Winter 2021/2022.
  • Lashley, Myrna, Sara K. Thompson, Ghayda Hassan, Serge Touzin & Michael Chartrand. (2021). “The Relationship Between Countering Violent Extremism, Police, Cultural Competency and Public Health.” In. Kamaldeep Bhiu & Dinesh Bhugra (Eds.) Terrorism, Violent Radicalization and Mental Health: Oxford Cultural Psychiatry Series. London: Oxford University Press. 
  • Sara K. Thompson, Feras Ismail and Joe Couto. (2020). Hate/Bias Crime: A Review of Policies, Practices, and Challenges. Prepared for and disseminated to all police services in Ontario by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • Sara K. Thompson. (2020). Why Has Hate Crime Become an Operational Priority for Canadian Police Services? Research Report prepared for and disseminated to all police services in Canada by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP).
  • Sara K. Thompson & Elisabeth Leroux. (2020). Final Report - Design and Performance: Developing Canadian Partnerships for Countering Violent Extremism. Submitted to the Strategic Policy Branch, Public Safety Canada.  204 pages.
  • Jeremy Littlewood, Lorne Dawson, and Sara K. Thompson (Eds., 2020). Canada Among Nations: Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Sara K. Thompson & Sandra Bucerius. (2020). “Police-Community Outreach in Canada: A Tale of Two Cities.” In Jez Littlewood, Lorne Dawson & Sara K. Thompson (Eds.) Canada Among Nations: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Sara K. Thompson and Feras Ismail. (2020). “An Examination of Competencies for and the Evaluation of CVE Work in Policing.” Research Brief prepared for the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security & Society (TSAS).
  • (authorship listed in alphabetical order) Maartje Buter, Garth Davies, Khadije Nasser, John McCoy, Elaine Pressman, Werner Prinzjakowitsch, Simon Smith, Casey Tischner, Sara K. Thompson, Stevan Weine & Ariane Wolf. (2019). Understanding Referral Mechanisms in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism: Navigating Challenges and Protecting Human Rights. A Guidebook for South-Eastern Europe. Prepared for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe: Vienna. 116 pages.
  • Ahmad Karimi, Sandra Bucerius & Sara K. Thompson (2018). “Gender Identity and Integration: Second Generation Somali Immigrants Navigating Gender in Canada.”  Ethnic & Racial Studies. 42(9): 1534-1553.
  • Sara K. Thompson and Sandra Bucerius (2018). “Transnational Radicalization, Diaspora Groups and Within-Group Sentiment Pools: Young Tamil- and Somali-Canadians on the LTTE and al-Shabaab.” Terrorism and Political Violence. 31(3): 577-594.
  • Sandra Bucerius, Sara K. Thompson and Luca Berardi. (2017). “They’re Colonizing my Neighbourhood: (Perceptions of) Social Mix in Canada.” City & Community. 16(4): 486-505.
  • Ghalib Bhayani and Sara K. Thompson. (2016). “SMART on Social Problems: Lessons Learned from a Canadian Risk-Based Collaborative Intervention Model.” Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. 11(2): 168-184.
  • Curt T. Griffiths and Sara K. Thompson. (2016). “Clarifying the Dialogue: Key Issues in Defining, Responding to and Preventing Racial Profiling.” Canadian Diversity Volume, Select Edition, Racial Profiling and Human Rights.
  • Marta Urbanik, Sara K. Thompson & Sandra Bucerius. (2016). “‘Before There Was Danger But There Was Rules. And Safety in Those Rules’: Effects of Neighbourhood Redevelopment on Criminal Structures.” British Journal of Criminology. 57(2): 422-440.
  • Paul Jossee, Sara K. Thompson & Sandra Bucerius (2015). “Narratives and Counternarratives: Somali-Canadians on recruitment as ‘Foreign Fighters’ to al-Shabaab.” British Journal of Criminology. 55: 811-832.
  • Sara K. Thompson (2014). “Violent Crime.” In Neil Boyd, (ed.). Understanding Criminology in Canada. Toronto: Edmond Montgomery Press.
  • Sara K. Thompson (2014). “The Spatial Distribution and Social Ecology of ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ Homicide Types in Toronto: A Case for Data Disaggregation.” Homicide Studies.
  • Sara K. Thompson (2014). “Case Study: Black Homicide Victimization in Toronto, Ontario Canada”. In Tonry & Bucerius (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime and Immigration. United States: Oxford University Press, p. 430-453.
  • Sara K. Thompson & Rosemary Gartner (2013). “The Spatial Distribution and Social Context for Homicide in Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1988-2003”. Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency. 51(1): 88-118.
  • Sara K. Thompson, Sandra Bucerius & Mark Luguya. (2013). “Unintended Consequences of Neighbourhood Restructuring: Uncertainty, Disrupted Social Networks and Increased Fear of Violent Victimization Among Young Adults” British Journal of Criminology. 53(5): 924-941.