Since the 2014 death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer, there has been a string of similar incidents that have occurred in a relatively short period of time. These high profile incidents of police officers using questionable amounts of force have shaken public trust in law enforcement. Studies have shown that public confidence in law enforcement often erodes drastically following heavily publicized, controversial media reports of police misconduct (Tuch and Weitzer 1997; Weitzer 2002). The current levels of public outrage in response to allegations of police brutality have surpassed the levels of outrage that followed similar, highly publicized incidents in previous decades (Lawrence 2000; Weitzer 2015). Scholar suggest that recent events, may have a longer-term impact than those in previous decades (Lawrence 2000; Weitzer 2002). This study seeks to extend the current literature on citizens' interpretations of police violence and how, if at all it is impacted by highly-publicized incident of police misconduct. Specifically, the current research uses a national sample to compare citizens' endorsement of police use of force before and after the 2014 death of Michael Brown. Overall, the results from a series of logistic regression analyses found that public attitudes toward police use of force are multifaceted and are shaped by a variety of individual and contextual level variables. Race/ethnicity was determined to be the strongest predictor of citizens' endorsement for police violence. It was also revealed that attitudinal support varies depending on the situational-context surrounding police/citizen interactions.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dennison, TaShanda, "Attitudinal Trends in Support for Police Use of Force Before and After Ferguson" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5848.