Public perception of law enforcement's treatment of suspects in North Carolina: Testing conflict, attitude consistency, and ecological theories

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dc.contributor.advisor Michael L. Vasu, Committee Chair en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Ellen S. Vasu, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Deborah L. Weisel, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.advisor G. David Garson, Committee Member en_US Weinstein, Meredith Blackwell en_US 2010-04-02T18:32:01Z 2010-04-02T18:32:01Z 2002-11-20 en_US
dc.identifier.other etd-11062002-163108 en_US
dc.description.abstract This research study examines whether citizens of North Carolina perceive the existence of discrimination in the treatment of suspects by law enforcement officers. The study was undertaken to ascertain the factors which characterize persons who believe that law enforcement officers treat certain suspects differently than others versus people who do not believe differential treatment exists. Previous research has acknowledged that it is of equal importance to study public perceptions of bias in the criminal justice system as to study whether bias actually exists. As such, this study does not attempt to determine if discrimination actually occurs, but rather what the public perceives as occurring in the criminal justice system. To study the factors influencing perceptions three models, proposed in previous research, were tested to explain differential attitudes: conflict theory, attitude consistency theory, and ecological theory. Additionally, a combined model including the components of each theory was tested. The three models were analyzed based on data collected from samples of North Carolina residents in 1997, 1999, and 2001. The findings suggest that none of the three models adequately explains differing perceptions. Furthermore, the model with the greatest explanatory ability was the combined model, thereby indicating that perceptions are multidimensional and a single theoretical explanation is insufficient. Based on the research findings, several policy implications were identified: Policymakers must recognize the interdependence of the elements that compose the criminal justice system. Policymakers must recognize the need to close the gap between the public's perception of discrimination and reality. Policymakers must recognize the disparity in public opinion of specific segments of the population. Policymakers must recognize the importance of positive public opinion to the success of policing initiatives. en_US
dc.rights I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to NC State University or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report. en_US
dc.subject public attitude en_US
dc.subject police en_US
dc.subject public opinion en_US
dc.title Public perception of law enforcement's treatment of suspects in North Carolina: Testing conflict, attitude consistency, and ecological theories en_US PhD en_US dissertation en_US Public Administration en_US

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