Community-Law Enforcement Cohesion

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The aspect of community policing implementation is a key theory to a way to reduce crime as well as improve the community-law enforcement cohesion. Tensions between law enforcement officers and the communities they police have increased in the recent years. We need policies and programs that bring police and communities together to reduce this tension and fight crime. Leading to my research, what obstacles and opportunities do police officers perceive in their relationship with the communities they serve? This study was administered on a police department residing in a suburban city in southern California. Qualitative data consisted of interviews and observations. Statistical data of the criminal offenses in the community was the quantitative analysis. The individuals interviewed varied from patrol officers, detectives, corporals, and sergeants all within a single police department. I compared the department’s official data regarding crime rates and community programs with the officer's own perceptions of crime and community relations. Research suggests that successful programs change the perceptions that police have of youth, from seeing them as targets to appreciating them as community assets. Also, increasing communication and transparency between police and community members enhances cooperation and trust. Most research focuses on community responses to law enforcement. My research examines how police officers perceive the communities they patrol and which programs or policies they believe would work best to reduce crime and increase police-community cohesion. In agreement with the literature the findings reveal that this department is understaffed, as well as there is a lack of community programs through the department as a result of budget cuts. The officer’s perceptions of crime correspond with the official statistical data of the department. In addition to the officers feeling the community has a lack of education to what goes into the officer’s daily duties. Based off of statistical data compared with what the officers are experiencing, we are able to identify what needs to be done to increase the quality of life within the community as well as reduce crime. It is apparent that law enforcement needs to increase the communication within the department before they are able to increase the communication with the community.


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