Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Andreesscu, Viviana

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Vito, Gennaro F.

Committee Member

Vito, Gennaro F.

Committee Member

Hughes, Thomas

Committee Member

Austin, Mark

Author's Keywords

police assaults; social disorganization theory; macro-level predictors


Law enforcement is one of the most dangerous careers. Every day, while performing their jobs, police officers may find themselves in situations that place them at a high risk of being victimized or even feloniously killed by members of the public. Over the past five decades, several quantitative and qualitative research studies tried to identify the circumstances and the individual-level factors associated with an increased risk of police victimization. While most of the research studies focusing on police victimization were descriptive and/or were based on micro-level analyses, macro-level research on this topic is relatively scant. This dissertation intends to reduce this gap in the literature. Informed by the social disorganization theory (Shaw & McKay, 1942/1969), this dissertation attempts to identify the community-level factors more likely to predict variations in police victimization recently registered in Kentucky. To the author’s knowledge there are no rigorous studies conducted so far on police victimization in Kentucky. Using the county as a unit of analysis (N = 120), the research examined the effects of social disorganization predictors as well as the effects of several types of criminal activity on variations in public assaults against the police registered in Kentucky from 2012 to 2016. Additionally, considering the recent developments of the social disorganization theory, the proposed research tried to determine if social ties at the community level, as indicated by church adherence and participation in religious activities, appear to mediate the effect of the main predictors on variations in police victimization. Linear regression results indicate that female headed households increase the likelihood of police victimization, as well as social capital, which was not in the predicted direction. However, social capital did slightly reduce the impact that female headed households had on police victimization. Also, counties that had higher levels of poverty tended to have lower rates of assaults against police. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Included in

Criminology Commons