Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Mary Anne Taylor

Committee Member

Zhuo Job Chen

Committee Member

Marissa Porter Shuffler

Committee Member

Fred Switze III


While public outrage in response to excessive force is appropriate and understandable (e.g., Rodney King), there are also use-of-force instances which may be misconstrued as excessive by civilians due to a lack of understanding of the law, policies, and procedures for police use of force (UOF). This can lead to negative perceptions of police officers. This poses a threat to healthy police-community relations, as positive perceptions of the police are reliable predictors of compliance and voluntary cooperation with them (Choi, 2021). To balance overly negative perceptions of police who are following protocol and potentially increase the positivity of perceptions, this project aimed to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention that provides civilians with straightforward knowledge of the laws, policies, and practices for UOF. The project had two primary goals: (1) to assess the impact of a factual discussion of justifiable use of force (UOF) on knowledge of UOF and empathy toward police and (2) The impact of knowledge of UOF and an empathic perpective that encouraged identification with police on attitudes and empathy toward police. Results of Study 1 suggested that the use of the short factual discussion of UOF was not effective in changing knowledge of UOF or empathy for police. Results of Study 2 suggested that while knowledge of UOF had no impact on attitudes toward police, adopting an empathic perspective was effective in increasing empathy for police. Implications of these findings for interventions designed to enhance community-police relations are discussed.



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