Walter Katz

Senior Fellow

Walter Katz brings over two decades of experience improving community safety and criminal justice reform with a background spanning government, private sector, and philanthropic leadership.

Beginning his career as a public defender in Southern California, Katz gained firsthand insight into the workings of the justice system. He later transitioned to roles in police oversight, serving as Deputy Inspector General in Los Angeles County and later as Independent Police Auditor appointed by the San Jose City Council. Katz returned to his hometown of Chicago to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration. He led crime reduction and police reform efforts and played a key role in negotiating the 2019 consent decree, implementing body-worn cameras, and enhancing police intelligence capabilities.

Following his tenure in the Mayor's Office, Katz lent his expertise to a developer of machine learning-based early intervention software, advising cities across the U.S. on aligning policy and technology with modern policing practices. Later, as Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures, Katz led philanthropic initiatives focusing on police accountability, gun violence reduction, and alternatives to arrest for individuals with mental illness. Additionally, he oversaw impact investments in early-stage companies specializing in technologies such as body-worn camera analytics and DNA forensics.

He is a past board member of the National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) as well as an Open Society Foundation Leadership in Government Fellow. He has published scholarship in journals such as the Harvard Law Review Forum, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and for the Federal Reserve Banks. Walter received his law degree from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific and his undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.