Joseph D. McNamara was chief of police for the city of San Jose, California for fifteen years, as well as Kansas City, Missouri. He is recognized as an expert in criminal justice, police technology and management systems, crime prevention, and international drug control policies. He was appointed a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, in 1991. McNamara was a pioneer in criticizing the way Police Departments and the government " fought the war on crime." McNamara challenged what has long been the norm in society on how to best deal with drug use in the United States. He was also on the forefront of police corruption and abuses committed by Police Officers.
Numerous articles, interviews, lectures were researched to best convey McNamara's philosophy of police technology, innovative ness and management style (leadership). McNamara's career in law enforcement spans a thirty-five-year period. He began in Harlem as a beat patrolman for the New York City Police Department. He rose through the ranks and in mid career was appointed a criminal justice fellow at Harvard Law School, focusing on criminal justice research methodology. Following this appointment he took a leave from police work and obtained a doctorate in public administration at Harvard. Returning to duty with the NYPD, he was appointed deputy inspector in charge of crime analysis for New York City.
In 1973 McNamara became police chief of Kansas City, Missouri, leading that department into groundbreaking research and innovative programs. In 1976 McNamara was appointed police chief for the city of San Jose, where he remained until his retirement in 1991. During his tenure, San Jose (the third-largest city in California and the eleventh largest in the United States) became the safest city in the country, despite having the fewest police per capita. The San Jose police became a model for innovation, community relations, utilization of technology, and productivity. The department's advanced training and computerization programs have been duplicated throughout the world. He has been a consultant for the United States Department of Justice, State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and some of the nation's largest corporations.
Over the past decade, McNamara has organized four conferences at the Hoover Institution, attended by police chiefs and command officers, focusing on U. S. drug control policies.