Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Mona Danner

Committee Member

Brian K. Payne

Committee Member

Allison T. Chappell

Committee Member

Judi Caron-Sheppard

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 H66 2006


Police departments strive to hire good officers. However, there is difficulty in defining what constitutes a good police officer. The literature is rife in defining what constitutes a good police officer and characteristics indicative of a good officer. Past research suggests that characteristics of a good police officer may be more than the characteristic itself and that officers' may form their perception of what characteristics good officers harbor based on socialization, the police subculture, and the official police organization.

As such, this study sought to explore the following research question: What differences, if any, exist between police recruits' and sergeants' perceptions of a good police officer? The research in this study was guided by the theoretical framework of organizational socialization, the police subculture, and the official police organization. This study used primary data obtained by a self administered questionnaire distributed to recruits and sergeants in the QuadK police department. The two groups were questioned regarding their perception of how important 28 characteristics derived from the literature are for a good police officer to have based on a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 10 (extremely important). Demographic variables and their possible impact on one's perception of the importance of certain characteristics were also explored.

Univariate, bi-variate, and multi-variate statistical analysis were used to explore the research question, as were both parametric and nonparametric statistical tests. Overall the findings of this study illuminated that recruits in general viewed all 28 characteristics as more important than did the sergeants. Furthermore, the results also yielded that education and experience may play a large part in deciphering what characteristics are important. Most importantly this research supports the theoretical framework of socialization, the police subculture, and the official police organization as playing a role in how officers' derive their sense of what makes a good officer.


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