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Public Policy and Administration


Timothy P. Fadgen


Since the terrorist attacks on the United States of America on September 11, 2001, approach to policing has observably been shifted across the country. Utilizing a qualitative methodology, this study explored the perceptions of community members from a Chicago, Illinois community regarding the shift in policing style post 9/11. Cooley's theory of the looking glass self, coupled with a phenomenological approach to understand the deeper meaning associated with the perceptions of the residents and the shift in policing styles in Chicago communities. The data were obtained from participants who were at least 40 years old and held a residence for at least 3 years in the area prior to 9/11 and 3 to 5 years immediately after 9/11. The study included the use of a semi-structured interview guide and the findings were analyzed using inductive coding with thematic analysis. The findings indicated that residents of the community want a positive relationship with the police but perceive that they are viewed negatively by the police and that police fear them. Participants agreed that they recognized a shift in policing strategies and consistently noted a desire for police to return to community policing strategies that they perceive have been abandoned in favor of more militaristic approaches to law enforcement. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to police executives to consider the strategic and tactical demilitarization of the police department and integrate community preferences in future decision making regarding critical standard operating procedures including stop and frisk policies, training initiatives, and zero tolerance declarations. Adherence to these recommendations may improve oversight of officers and improve relationships with the community.

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