Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Goetzke, Frank

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

DeCaro, Daniel

Committee Member

DeCaro, Daniel

Committee Member

Koven, Steve

Committee Member

Dawson-Edwards, Cherie

Author's Keywords

trust in police; police governance; impartiality; social network effects


This dissertation is an historical and empirical examination of police organizational efforts at influencing public perceptions of trust in police. It begins with an historical overview of police organizational reform, focusing on the various strategies employed by police reformers have attempted to influence public perceptions of police trustworthiness and legitimacy. It uses Rothstein’s impartiality as Quality of Government thesis and the theory of collective memory to argue for an understanding of the importance of the normative context in which police tactics and strategies are deployed for garnering trust in police and how the presence of social network effects for trust in police complicate contemporary efforts at changing perceptions. The latter part of the dissertation tests for the existence of these effects empirically. The dissertation is divided into three chapters. Chapter One gives an historical overview of police efforts to influence trust in police and argues that reformers have overlooked normativity and peer effects as factors influencing trust in police. Chapter Two investigates whether, in addition to police performance and procedural fairness, universal impartiality is a significant predictor of trust in police. Chapter Three tests for the presence of a social network effect for trust in police. It argues that one interpretation of the consequences of the existence of a social network effect for trust in police is that it can lead to path dependent outcomes similar to the effects of collective memory.