Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Communication and Media Studies

Department or Program Chair

Mairi Pileggi, PhD

First Reader

John Duvall, PhD


This paper examines a number of case studies and articles concerning media’s depiction of law enforcement and its effects on the officers’ duties to the public. Recent stories of excessive use of force by police throughout the country began a new generation of activists for civil rights, exposed to a more advanced news media. Nationwide coverage displayed an image of law enforcement which was overly aggressive. For citizens who have little to no interaction with law enforcement, this image being depicted is the only basis for definition of what is a “police officer”. Combined with the history of civil rights in the United States, society has grown more anxious and distrusting of law enforcement. Police departments in recent years have established several different programs of training and policy reform in attempts to strengthen the relationship with their communities; yet the image remains. Law enforcement must cooperate with citizens in perilous situations regularly, and may find this difficult should the citizens not trust them.