Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Robert J. Kaminski


The first of Sir Robert Peel’s nine principles of law enforcement (1829) tells us that the police exist to prevent crime. However, the next six principles address the police’s need to develop a relationship with the public and maintain the publics’ approval, favor, respect, and voluntary cooperation. Although these principles were written in 1829, they still apply to police organizations today. This paper addresses the struggles policing organizations in the United States of America had over the years in maintaining these principles of law enforcement, the strategies the police have used to increase public approval, and factors associated with how the public perceives the police. In keeping with the tradition of the literature on citizens’ perceptions of the police, this paper analyzes and discusses influences on perceptions of the police that relate to specific support for the police. One gap in the literature is that there are few studies examining perceptions of the police using Easton’s (1965) systems theory of support for public institutions and possible ways of cultivating diffuse support, instead of specific support. One possible influence on this type of support is citizens’ vicarious interactions with the police, via media consumption. To address this gap in the literature, a survey asking respondents questions regarding their perceptions of the police, consumption of different media outlets, and other factors that have been shown to influence perceptions of the police was administered to undergraduate criminal justice majors at two state universities (N = 782). Ordinary least squares regression (OLS) and ordered logistic regression (OLR) models were used to analyze the influence of media consumption on respondents’ perceptions of the police. Results of the OLR models found that levels of media consumption were significantly related to changes in perceptions of the police in their community, but not when asked questions about the police in general. Results of the OLS models indicated that consumption levels of different types of media outlets (TV entertainment, Internet entertainment or traditional news) did not significantly influence how a respondent perceived the police


© 2019, Matilda Foster