Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Gregory Koehle


African American males are more likely than any of race of males to report unreasonable and unnecessary negative experiences with law enforcement officers. They may describe these experiences as unjustified due to the level of force used. In some cases, excessive force used by police has resulted in the death of African American males. Due to unresolved issues between African American males and police officers dating back to the slavery era, there is a deep historical division between these groups. Among African American males, the percentage of individuals who express distrust toward police officers tends to be higher than in any other group. The purpose of this research study was to explore African American males' perceptions of police officers in order to understand this distrust. This study involved 16 males residing in a large southern city who were selected to share their experiences with and perceptions of police officers. Social relationship theory as defined by Weber was used as the theoretical framework for this study. Participants were selected via snowball sampling to answer questions during semistructured interviews. The data were analyzed and coded using modified van Kaam analysis. The findings were that African American males distrust the police due to their personal experiences during police encounters and police officers' biases toward them. The findings of this study may help leaders, policymakers, administrative assistants, and law enforcement agencies within the study city understand how to implement positive social change that could assist law enforcements officers and African American males with developing a positive relationship.