When analyzing qualitative data, semantic analysis is essential, and researchers identify recurrent themes. Coding is an effective method enabling researchers to spot the most recurrent themes and highlight them (Fleisher, 2015). Themes are a higher-level element that helps the researcher examine people’s attitudes, concerns, feelings, perspectives, and so on (Maxfield, 2015). In this study, people’s attitudes towards law enforcement agencies are analyzed. When analyzing the participants’ responses, the following themes were identified: police brutality, cause of the stop, unsatisfactory response, feelings, attitudes (see Table 1). When creating codes, I used the first letter of the primary word in the themes highlighted. These codes were easy to remember and use. As to the themes, I highlighted the most relevant to this study.
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From this study, it is clear that people have rather a negative attitude towards law enforcement agencies. People did not trust police officers and had a feeling that their views, complaints, and reports were disregarded. It is also clear that people accuse police officers of police brutality. The participants mention such behaviors as intimidation, the use of violence, violation of some rights (for example, private property in the case with Respondent 1). It is also noteworthy that the participants mention a specific cause of their stop, which means that police officers provide this information. However, the relevance of the causes is quite doubtful. It is important to stress that people’s attitudes towards police officers are highly negative. The participants believe that police officers do not protect and support the public but try to victimize and “traumatize” people showing their power over the rest of the people. The participants believe that police officer are “out to get you” and it is impossible to change the situation since police officers will “protect” each other.
It is possible to develop certain recommendations based on the analysis of the themes identified. Police officers should get some training concerning ways to handle their tasks effectively. Police brutality should be discussed, and employees should understand that there can be zero tolerance for certain behaviors. It is also vital to carry out a study concerning the way police officers react to people’s complaints. Training based on the results of this research should be developed and provided to police officers. Finally, it is necessary to address people’s negative attitudes toward law enforcement agencies. To achieve this goal, it can be effective to develop interventions that will involve police officers and representatives of the community. The intervention can include workshops and discussions of such topics as police brutality, people’s rights, police officers’ rights and responsibilities, different real-life situations. It is important to make the stakeholders aware of each other’s perspectives. It can also be effective to discuss particular complaints with police officers on a daily basis. Clearly, the confidentiality and anonymity of the authors of the complaints discussed should be ensured. Therefore, complaints should be analyzed, and certain case studies should be developed. Police officers should practice responding to the situations described in these case studies.
Table 1. Focus Group Theming Table.
|Questions||Respondent 1 Short Answers||Respondent 2 Short Answers||Respondent 3 Short Answers||Theme Labels||Theme Codes|
|What caused you to file a complaint with the police department?|| || |
|How did the police department respond to the complaint?|| || || || || |
|How did you feel about how the police department responded?|| || || |
Fleisher, M. S. (2015). The culture of violent behavior: Language, culture, and worldview of prison rape. In J. Miller & W. R. Palacios (Eds.), Qualitative research in criminology (pp. 101-135). Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Maxfield, M. G. (2015). Basics of research methods for criminal justice and criminology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.