Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Karen Shafer


Public opinion polls have shown the public lacks confidence in U.S. police to use appropriate amounts of force and treat racial minorities fairly, which undermines police legitimacy and the quality of life of all citizens. Although rules have been shown to positively constrain police uses of force, researchers have not demonstrated the effect of rules on racially influenced policing (RIP). In 2005, the RIP directive which prohibits officers from using race as a factor in taking discretionary actions was promulgated in New Jersey. The purpose of this study was to determine through the theoretical lens of Lipsky's street-level bureaucrat theory the influence of the RIP directive on municipal police officer uses of force upon non-Whites. A quantitative nonexperimental retrospective design was used to examine a stratified, proportionate random sample of 301 use of force reporting forms from municipal police agencies in one New Jersey county for a 5-year period before and after the enactment of the RIP directive. A binomial logistic regression indicated that the RIP directive had no influence on the use of force upon non-Whites. Suspect race did not significantly influence force outcomes. Scholarly implications include producing research based upon existing policy to better help inform evidence-based policymaking. Policy implications include police practitioners and policymakers actively monitoring officer uses of force for racial bias and broadening their examination to other issues affecting the problem of trust. Implications for social change include framing the problem within the public policy paradigm to promote political discourse, evidence-based decision making, and improved civilian oversight of the police, which could strengthen trust and police legitimacy.