Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Committee Chair

Philip Carlan

Committee Chair Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 2

Lisa Nored

Committee Member 2 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 3

Alan Thompson

Committee Member 3 Department

Criminal Justice


Police ethics and decision making are issues of concern to both academic scholars and police leaders. While previous studies have focused on perceptions of police officers, little research has focused on the perceptions of young people about police ethical decision-making. This study aims to capture such perceptions from a cohort of college students majoring in criminal justice. Students from an undergraduate criminal justice program (n=263) were surveyed to determine their attitudes toward various ethical components of police work, including the prevalence of misconduct and the impact of a college education on ethical decision-making. Moreover, the effect of successful completion of a criminal justice ethics course upon their perceptions also was examined. Additionally, the effect of misconduct and unethical practices on community ties and rapport with citizens was explored. Policy implications are discussed.