Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Alpert, Geoffrey

Abstract

Research shows that college students drink alcohol frequently and heavily. This can compromise their health and well-being. Student drinking is also tied to crime. While prior work explores the nature and extent of crimes involving alcohol on campus, to date no study has examined how police handle these incidents or crime generally. This study fills that gap in the literature. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected by observing and interviewing campus officers at a large Southeastern university as they navigated through encounters with citizens. Findings include the following. Officers handle a variety of crimes, and do not have a single-faceted view of what makes one offense more serious than another. Traffic stops were the most frequent reason that officers encountered suspects. Alcohol incidents accounted for nearly one in three police-citizen encounters. In traffic stops and alcohol incidents, officers tended to sanction suspects leniently; participants' explanations of this varied. Only a few suspects were arrested because of their offenses; the major reasons for this are the seriousness of the crimes, legal mandate, and suspects' demeanor. Implications for policy are discussed.

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