Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice

First Committee Member

Tamara D. Madensen-Herold

Second Committee Member

William H. Sousa

Third Committee Member

Joel Lieberman

Fourth Committee Member

Jaewon Lim

Number of Pages



Procedural justice and police legitimacy research suggests that perceptions of legitimacy are based on the credibility of police (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003). However, highly publicized incidents of police use of force serve to threaten that credibility. High profile incidents between police and citizens in Black communities have contributed to national protests and, as some data suggest, increased violence toward the police (, 2016). Extensive media coverage of these incidents has contributed to an increased sensitivity toward police- citizen interactions leading to incidents of civil unrest (Weitzer, 2002). The incidents of civil unrest suggest that we should more closely examine factors that influence public perceptions of police interventions.

This study uses the RDFC Interaction Model (Madensen et al., 2012) to structure an examination of citizen reactions toward specific police interventions. The RDFC Interaction Model suggests that four dimensions of police-citizen encounters will affect the degree to which the public will find police actions as acceptable and voluntarily comply with officer directives. Those dimensions include being reasonable, disarming, focused, and consistent. This study measures public support of specific police interactions using the RDFC Interaction Model and examines reported differences across each of the model’s dimensions. In addition, this study attempts to identify individual characteristics that may account for variation in reported perceptions of police interventions. The policy objective of the study is to assist police departments in community outreach efforts when highly publicized use of force incidents occur.


Legitimacy; Perceptions; Police; Race; RDFC Interaction Model; Use of Force


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit