Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Schroeder, Ryan D.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gagne, Patricia

Committee Member

Roelfs, David

Committee Member

Tewksbury, Richard

Committee Member

Carter, Eric


Police-community relations; Law enforcement--Psychological aspects; Law enforcement--Social aspects


The citizen police academy (CPA) is an example of how police departments around the United States are bridging the gap between the police and the community in which they work. The operation and curriculum of the citizen police academy are open to examination by police managers and community-relations officers and the public. This work adds to the existing literature on citizen police academies, community oriented policing, and institutional organizational theories by providing an in-depth qualitative look at participants’ experiences with a citizen police academy and addresses why police agencies adopt these groups into their outreach programming. This work does that through the proposal of a new theoretical framework, The COPS Contradiction. The theory provides explanatory insight into the adoption of potentially irrational rational myths by CPA participants about the police, and how emotional labor impacts the ability of participants to see the myth’s irrationality. The theory is potentially applicable to other organizations that desire to understand rational myth adoption by its participants. The dissertation is divided into five chapters covering a discussion of the current literature, applicable theories, the methods used in data collection, findings, and discussion. Chapter One provides a review of the existing literature regarding community policing, volunteers in policing, and citizen police academies. Chapter two introduces the theoretical frameworks that emerged from the data, including social identity theory and ephemeral roles, institutional theories and Anderson’s Imagined Community, and emotional labor. Chapter Three provides an explanation and rationale for the data collection methods used. Chapter Four presents the findings thematically, using the narratives of the participants and researcher’s observations to tell the story of the CPA experience. Lastly, Chapter Five is a consideration of the findings as they relate to the creation of a new theory, The COPS Contradiction, which attempts to explain how the effects of emotional labor impact the adoption of rational myths.

Included in

Sociology Commons