Masters Thesis

21st Century systemic perceptions in police departments: a project plan to address the divide in Bakersfield, California between police officers and black community members

For most of us, our perception of others has an indirect impact on our interactions with them. For example, as you’re walking down the street, you might perceive an individual walking towards you as intimidating or dangerous. The thought that they will harass you might even come to mind. Most of us though, will look elsewhere, quickly walk by, and say nothing. Law enforcement officer’s perception of others, however, has a direct impact on these interactions. Recent officer-involved killings of black individuals highlight these perceptions. The magnitude of these incidents, though, is what has the black community fed up, and subsequently; we’re facing a divide throughout the country between the two. To address this issue locally, Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) must become more sensitive to these perceptions and tolerant of community differences. This project plan proposes strategies to address perceptions, activities to combat community distrust, and implementation steps to begin to bridge the gap between BPD and the black community. Additional research, or other work, surrounding the strategies, activities, and implementation steps of this proposed plan should be conducted by BPD to improve upon this foundation.

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