Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)
African American males, police, body-worn cameras, leadership
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Ray, Barbara R., "Exploring African American Males' Experiences With Police In Southern California: A Phenomenological Study" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3757.
Black males are treated unfairly and killed more by law enforcement than any other group. The current study sought to explore how Black males in San Bernardino County, CA, describe their lived experiences with law enforcement as framed by the tents of critical race theory. To achieve this aim, a phenomenological research study was conducted, using semistructured interviews with Black males. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The key themes identified included (a) centrality of bias in experiences negatively shaped regard of police, (b) as tools, body-worn cameras do little to increase security or legitimacy, (c) limited interactions-limited law enforcement leadership, and (d) relationships are at the center of improving fairness and equity. The interview data indicated that race is viewed as an inherent threat and that police demonstrate hypervigilance when dealing with Black males. Participants often reported traumatizing experiences, especially during traffic stops, and there was little optimism about fairness when Black males interacted with the police. It was also established that body-worn cameras, although a good idea in theory, fail in practice. The officers' behaviors do not seem to change, even when they know they are being monitored. Primary data concerning the experiences of Black males during interactions with the police confirmed all the tenets of critical race theory. The implications of this are that the readers of this study could change their personal beliefs and transfer this into their respective ecosystems. Given the limited number of qualitative studies on this subject, the findings of this study have played an important role in filling this gap and offering guidance for future research on this topic.