Date of Award

4-2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Barry Goetz

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick Cundiff

Third Advisor

Dr. Tim Ready

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Recent clashes between law enforcement and civilians have brought the issue of police-community relations to the forefront of many political discourses. While community policing has achieved a degree of success in alleviating these problems, many of the issues raised by the seminal Kerner Commission in 1967 remain today. This phenomenological case study represents a contemporary look at a city named “Heartland,” which has received accolades from numerous organizations for its community policing efforts. The primary source of data were in-depth interviews with police officers, and members of community organizations in the city of Heartland, analyzing how these two parties collaborate towards community policing.

The results indicate that group violence intervention (GVI) is the most sophisticated collaborative effort between police and community members. Heartland police utilize this tactic to not only combat violent crime, but also reduce the number of adverse police-citizen encounters, within a community policing frame work. This phenomenon which I call “reconciling the state’s use of violence,” shows how citizen activism, along with police leadership, can represent a crucial step in improving police-community relations. As GVI-influenced programs continue to gain influence, they must be considered within the discourse of community policing. Issues related to drug abuse, mental illness, police unions, among others, represent further obstacles to improving police-community relations in Heartland.

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Sociology Commons

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