Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Osvaldo Morera


Police departments have often cited “a few bad apples” when discussing incidents of officer misconduct or improper use of force. However, police reform organizations often posit that when the tree is bad, all fruit it bears will be rotten. Police culture serves as the root of the tree in this analogy; the basis of the characteristics and behaviors of police rely on the specifics of police culture that has been imprinted during the police academy and maintained through everyday police work. Police culture determines how police officers interact with citizens and behave on the job. Those interactions can influence how citizens perceive police officers and police institutions. How citizens perceive police officers heavily influences the relationship between police departments and the communities they police. Citizens’ perceptions of police are often determined through personal and vicarious interactions with police, media perceptions of the police, and much more. Two studies were conducted that examined the roles of police office race, procedurally just interactions with citizens, interaction outcome and an index of positive feelings about the police. Data on perceptions of the police was also collected. In Study 1, while group membership did not predict police legitimacy and police trustworthiness, positivity toward the police and enhanced personal and vicarious experiences with police officers was positively associated with police legitimacy and police trustworthiness. When perceptions of the police were added to this model, these effects disappeared. In Study 2, there were no effects of police office race, procedurally just treatment and interaction outcome on police legitimacy and police trustworthiness. When perceptions of police as added to the model, these effects emerged such that police legitimacy and police trustworthiness is enhanced when people are treated justly and when the officer is African American. Implications of using perceptions of police as a variable in future studies is discussed.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

176 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Kityara U'Nae James

Included in

Psychology Commons