Helms School of Government


Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MS)


Billy Wilson


Homeless, community-oriented policing, barriers, procedural justice, law enforcement


Social and Behavioral Sciences


This research examines the barriers that exist between law enforcement and the homeless population of Lawrence, Kansas. Based on the criminalization of certain homeless practices and the treatment of homeless people by government officials, persons experiencing homelessness are less likely to report crimes to the proper authorities. Being the case, law enforcement methodology must change to a community-oriented policing style in order to create open lines of communication between law enforcers and this unique community. This study examined the homeless population's hesitancy to contact the police when they were in need of assistance and compared the results to both how they had been treated by law enforcement in the past and their knowledge of community-oriented policing. The study ultimately yielded mixed results on both contacting the police and past procedurally just treatment by law enforcement. Furthermore, not a single respondent was able to accurately identify community-oriented policing. The research led to the conclusion that although some homeless people in Lawrence, Kansas experienced fair treatment, the barriers between law enforcement and the homeless population could be effectively overcome by implementing true community-oriented policing.