George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Marine Veteran Builds a New Career in Criminology at Mason 

September 22, 2014

By Buzz McClain

At George Mason University, Breanne Cave is gaining experience and knowledge that will allow her to build on her previous career in the Marines to create a new career in criminology.

Breanne Cave

Breanne Cave

Besides working on her own research, the PhD candidate and Presidential Scholar is helping Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy with studies that may have significant impact on what we know about deterring crime. When she graduates, she hopes to lend her expertise to help the military become more efficient with regard to policing and peacekeeping operations.

There’s not a lot of theory or research on how the military can respond to violent and other types of offending crimes, she says. It’s a field she believes is ripe for study, and she may be just the one to do it. Cave had the idea that crime and place go hand in hand before she knew Mason’s center was already pioneering the field.

“I had an idea from the work I’d done in the military that geography probably has something to do with where violence happens,” Cave says. “I was searching for people who study this when I was looking for graduate schools, and that brought me to Dr. Weisburd.”

That center’s executive director, Mason Distinguished Professor David Weisburd, would pop up high on a Google search is not surprising. Weisburd pioneered the innovative, and formerly unconventional, idea of “place-based policing,” and is one of five academics who have won criminology’s top two awards in his career. Now Cave is helping Weisburd and others on a major community health and safety study of the city of Baltimore, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

In uniform: Lt. Cave on duty in Iraq.

In uniform: Lt. Cave on duty in Iraq.

Before coming to Mason Cave was a Marine lieutenant, serving two tours in Iraq, first working as an intelligence officer and then as an engineer supporting a Marine air wing; now she’s a reserve captain with the History Division of the Marine Corps University. Her interests in security and policing have led her to participate in evaluations of policing and federal security organizations. While at Mason she has also published work detailing how place-based crime research can be used by military planners to prevent violence during an insurgency.

“Working at Mason has given me a strong understanding of place-based research and evidence-based crime policy, and my previous military experience has given me an appreciation for how these kinds of ideas would improve current practices,” she says.

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