Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)
college-aged males, trust, social relationship theory, case study
VanClief, Craig Vernon, "Strengthening Community Trust: A Qualitative Exploration of College-Aged African American Males' Perceptions of and Experiences with the Police" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4450.
The researcher of this phenomenological qualitative multiple case study aimed to examine how community trust between the police and the community they serve is strengthened based on the perspectives of college-aged African American males. The following research questions that guided this study included what do college-aged African American males see as the most significant opportunities to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community they serve? What do college-aged African American males believe are the most essential steps law enforcement can take to increase community trust and confidence in the police? How can law enforcement foster more community engagement and public support in community outreach programs to improve community safety from the perspective of college-aged African American males? The problem addressed in this qualitative study is mistrust between college-aged Black males and law enforcement. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to understand the reasons for the mistrust of the police by college aged African American males. The theoretical framework used in this study was the social relationship theory. Social relationship theory helps explain why a group of individuals may express specific behaviors and attitudes toward other groups in society. The setting for this study took place at a mid-sized historically Black college/university (HBCU) in southeastern Virginia. The study was conducted using 12 participants who experienced the phenomenon. Data were collected through interviews. The findings of this study were that participants felt that the police should be more present, not stereotype, be more approachable, and have more community involvement. Future research should focus on implementation of ideas shared by the participants.