Award Date

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Leadership

First Committee Member

Joel D. Lieberman

Second Committee Member

Terance D. Miethe

Third Committee Member

William H. Sousa

Fourth Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Fifth Committee Member

Donovan Conley

Number of Pages



Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are an innovative technology that has received significant interest from the law enforcement community. The size and ability, technological capability, and cost effectiveness of UAVs make them an attractive tool for law enforcement agencies to utilize in the course of operations, including domestic surveillance. Despite the potential benefits to the society, public perception of police UAV use is mixed, and “Not Over My Backyard (NOMBY)” attitudes relevant to Fourth Amendment privacy concerns are consistently demonstrated across studies related to public perceptions on this emerging technology.

The present study focuses on the relative impact of privacy threats and other situational factors on individuals’ perceptions of police and their use of UAV technology. Using Stephan and Renfro’s revised reintegrated threat theory (2002), the present research used a scenario- based experimental design to examine: (1) the impact perceived threat from police UAV use on people’s attitudes toward police and their use of UAVs? (2) the attitudinal differences of the degree of participants’ connection to the target of surveillance, and (3) the effect of the people’s pre-existing perceptions of police on participants’ attitudinal differences, and (4) the structural relationships, followed by the theory, between perceived threats, antecedents (i.e., relations between groups, individual difference variables, cultural dimensions, situational factors) to intergroup threat, and the people’s perceptions, as well as demographic or other socio-economic factors.

The findings provide some significant socio-psychological implications concerning police-community intergroup relations. First, the quality of the interpersonal treatment or relations (i.e., individual differences) they had previously received from police officers was the strongest indicator in predicting their attitudes toward police UAV use. Second, the outcome of UAV activity also influenced their evaluations of police. Lastly, people’s attitudes were more extreme when the level of connection to the target of surveillance was farther away from them and it was interacted with policing strategies (i.e., reactive v proactive policing).


Drone; Police; Police-Community Relations; Public attitudes; UAV


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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