Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • A STUDY COMPARING THE EYEWITNESS ACCURACY OF POLICE OFFICERS AND CITIZENS

    Author:
    John DeCarlo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jennifer Dysart
    Abstract:

    Police officers are not only responsible for administering lineups and interviews where citizens' eyewitness memories are tested, they are also called upon to make arrests, write reports, prepare warrants and testify in court based on their own memories. Do police make better eyewitnesses than citizens? This study hopes to partially answer that question while contributing to the body of eyewitness research on weapon focus effect (WFE) and the new area of inquiry on trying to understand witness accuracy for multiple perpetrator crimes. This study investigates the effects of WFE and the presence of multiple perpetrators on eyewitness memory in two separate experiments. Two groups, police officers and citizens, were tested and compared in each experiment. One of the reasons that have been theorized to explain the presence of WFE is that weapons might hold a certain amount of contextual relevance or novelty that draws the attention of the observer when the weapon is present in a scene. Since police officers are commonly exposed to weapons and receive training on de-escalation of multi-person conflicts, the current study attempted to determine whether citizens and police would perform in similar or dissimilar ways to situations which might inhibit the observation and encoding of crime scene elements into memory. Two experiments were conducted to measure the arousal level of participants and assess the accuracy of police and citizen identification decisions in situations that potentially divert attention from the perpetrator in a simulated crime. Experiment 1 examined the effects of the presence of a weapon and the "weapon focus effect." The results showed that police officers tested lower on certain factors associated with stress and arousal than citizens but both police and citizens made more errors when a weapon was inferred or present. This is the first time that the inferred weapon condition has been experimentally explored. In addition, police made fewer filler identifications when the lineup target was present than when absent. Experiment 2 tested whether the presence of two culprits instead of one culprit affected identification rates. Both police and citizens experienced an increase in two factors that are associated with stress and arousal. Additionally, both police and citizens' identification accuracy was lower in the presence of two culprits; no accuracy differences were found between the police and citizen group. The results will add to the body of literature in eyewitness identification and contribute to the understanding of how stress or anxiety may or may not affect identification accuracy. In addition, it is hoped that elements of the study will be useable in police training contexts to help understand and improve the way that eyewitness evidence is processed and used by law enforcement agencies.

  • Social Disorganization and the Public Level of Crime Control: A Spatial Analysis of Ecological Predictors of Homicide Rates in Bogota, Colombia

    Author:
    Gipsy Escobar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    Research in the social disorganization tradition has found community disadvantage to be one of the strongest and most consistent macro-level predictors of homicides in urban areas in the United States (Pratt & Cullen 2005). This dissertation empirically tests the applicability of ecological theories of crime to the spatial distribution of homicides in Bogota, Colombia, while proposing alternative measures of social disorganization that are analogous to those used in the American literature but that are more reflective of both social realities and data availability in Colombia. The study used data from several sources including official homicide figures from the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, socio-demographic characteristics from the 2005 census, location of police stations from the Metropolitan Police of Bogota, and presence of criminal groups and illegal markets from interviews with police precinct commanders. The research employed Principal Components Factor Analysis (PCFA) to create ecological constructs, and Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and Spatial Regression Analysis (SRA) to examine patterns of spatial dependence in the outcome and predictor variables. Results provide partial support for social disorganization theory to the extent that concentrated disadvantage, social isolation, and residential mobility positively predict homicide rates above and beyond the effect of the presence of criminal groups and other controls. Only one proxy measure of the public level of control (presence of police) was significant, but its effect was in the opposite direction to what was hypothesized. However, this effect disappeared in the final model once the temporal lag of homicide rates was introduced. The study makes several contributions to the literature including testing the external and construct validity of social disorganization and systemic model of control measures, proposing a mixed-methods approach to get a more nuanced understanding of the spatial distribution of homicide rates, and suggesting policy implications to reduce the effects of disadvantage as potentially effective strategies in preventing violent crime at the neighborhood level. In sum, the study provides some evidence in favor of the usefulness of social disorganization theories to understand violent crime in Latin American cities. Replications in the region will be needed to assess the generalizability of these findings.

  • Call of Duty: A question of Police Integrity

    Author:
    Albert Gamarra
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    Policing is a profession linked to ideals of integrity and honor. In spite of this, the profession has not been immune to corruption within its ranks. Most research in policing has concentrated on police corruption rather than police integrity. Research studies have examined the issue of corruption but they have encountered a multitude of measurement issues, making the direct study of corruption difficult. The goal of this research study was to replicate the seminal Klockars, Ivkovich, Harver & Haberfeld (2000) study examining police integrity within the United States. There has been a lack of research dedicated to the study of police integrity within the United States since the Klockars, et al. (2000) data was collected. This study aims to further understand the dynamics of integrity issues within the United States with the intension of offering policy recommendations to help reduce and eliminate their prevalence in American police departments.

  • Call of Duty: A question of Police Integrity

    Author:
    Albert Gamarra
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    Policing is a profession linked to ideals of integrity and honor. In spite of this, the profession has not been immune to corruption within its ranks. Most research in policing has concentrated on police corruption rather than police integrity. Research studies have examined the issue of corruption but they have encountered a multitude of measurement issues, making the direct study of corruption difficult. The goal of this research study was to replicate the seminal Klockars, Ivkovich, Harver & Haberfeld (2000) study examining police integrity within the United States. There has been a lack of research dedicated to the study of police integrity within the United States since the Klockars, et al. (2000) data was collected. This study aims to further understand the dynamics of integrity issues within the United States with the intension of offering policy recommendations to help reduce and eliminate their prevalence in American police departments.

  • The Gatekeeping Behind Meritocracy: Voices of NYC High School Students

    Author:
    Arlene Garcia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Richard Curtis
    Abstract:

    Survey and focus group sampling of students in high achieving schools compared to lower achieving schools were used to examine why there are fewer black men graduating from high schools in New York City as well as high schools around the country compared to other groups of students. Race is disaggregated in order to look at the difference in achievement rates for African American, black Hispanic, African, and Afro-Caribbean men. The findings support the contention that foreign-born blacks do better academically than native blacks. Focus groups consist of black males, females, and staff at six of the 12 schools; field notes are included for the other five. The research includes 23 faculty members, and 155 participants with quantitative data on 151 student participants, largely black males. Schools were sampled across four typologies: alternative, empowerment, private, and public to compare high achieving and low achieving schools. The findings uncover some of the reasons as to why fewer black males were graduating from high school. Some of the reasons include weak family, school, and community networks, and low skill levels. Successful black males report strong familial and school community networks, positive school culture that encourages learning, and high teacher expectation. Students report violent schools, teachers who do not make learning relevant, and apathetic teachers and staff hinder learning. The findings intend to inform the development of programs, designed to address the needs of black male students who attend John Jay, other City University of New York colleges, and schools across the country. Given the interest in growing incarceration rates and penal policy, this research explores proactive measures for dealing with at risk youth, e.g. creating tutoring and mentoring programs, recruiting and retaining more teachers and administrators who represent the student body, providing more funding for NCLB, diverting first time offenders, and expanding breakfast and lunch programs.

  • The Gatekeeping Behind Meritocracy: Voices of NYC High School Students

    Author:
    Arlene Garcia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Richard Curtis
    Abstract:

    Survey and focus group sampling of students in high achieving schools compared to lower achieving schools were used to examine why there are fewer black men graduating from high schools in New York City as well as high schools around the country compared to other groups of students. Race is disaggregated in order to look at the difference in achievement rates for African American, black Hispanic, African, and Afro-Caribbean men. The findings support the contention that foreign-born blacks do better academically than native blacks. Focus groups consist of black males, females, and staff at six of the 12 schools; field notes are included for the other five. The research includes 23 faculty members, and 155 participants with quantitative data on 151 student participants, largely black males. Schools were sampled across four typologies: alternative, empowerment, private, and public to compare high achieving and low achieving schools. The findings uncover some of the reasons as to why fewer black males were graduating from high school. Some of the reasons include weak family, school, and community networks, and low skill levels. Successful black males report strong familial and school community networks, positive school culture that encourages learning, and high teacher expectation. Students report violent schools, teachers who do not make learning relevant, and apathetic teachers and staff hinder learning. The findings intend to inform the development of programs, designed to address the needs of black male students who attend John Jay, other City University of New York colleges, and schools across the country. Given the interest in growing incarceration rates and penal policy, this research explores proactive measures for dealing with at risk youth, e.g. creating tutoring and mentoring programs, recruiting and retaining more teachers and administrators who represent the student body, providing more funding for NCLB, diverting first time offenders, and expanding breakfast and lunch programs.

  • POLICE DISCRETION: AN ANALYSIS OF NON-DOMESTIC ASSAULT CALLS FOR SERVICE

    Author:
    Monty Gerbush
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    John Kleinig
    Abstract:

    This study is based on an analysis of dispositions of non-domestic low-level assault and fight calls for service in three large municipal police departments (Boston, St. Paul and Nassau County, N.Y.). Accessing data from each of the departments' computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems it compares the dispositions of these calls for service (CFS) by agency. Dispositions were classified for the purpose of indicating whether calls were closed with "no further action" or "further action" (arrest or report). Utilizing census tract data it also provides agency comparisons based on race and income. The major findings of the study were that there was not a statistically significant difference in the percentage of calls resulting in "further action" between Boston and St. Paul or between Boston and Nassau County. However, Nassau had a statistically significant greater percentage of calls resulting in "further action" compared to St. Paul. The difference between the two departments could not be explained by differences in either racial or income distribution. Ten tables illustrate the results of the statistical tests conducted, and a discussion regarding the implications of both the results and the research methodology is presented.

  • POLICE DISCRETION: AN ANALYSIS OF NON-DOMESTIC ASSAULT CALLS FOR SERVICE

    Author:
    Monty Gerbush
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    John Kleinig
    Abstract:

    This study is based on an analysis of dispositions of non-domestic low-level assault and fight calls for service in three large municipal police departments (Boston, St. Paul and Nassau County, N.Y.). Accessing data from each of the departments' computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems it compares the dispositions of these calls for service (CFS) by agency. Dispositions were classified for the purpose of indicating whether calls were closed with "no further action" or "further action" (arrest or report). Utilizing census tract data it also provides agency comparisons based on race and income. The major findings of the study were that there was not a statistically significant difference in the percentage of calls resulting in "further action" between Boston and St. Paul or between Boston and Nassau County. However, Nassau had a statistically significant greater percentage of calls resulting in "further action" compared to St. Paul. The difference between the two departments could not be explained by differences in either racial or income distribution. Ten tables illustrate the results of the statistical tests conducted, and a discussion regarding the implications of both the results and the research methodology is presented.

  • Factors of Pretrial Release Conditions within a Misdemeanor and Felony Court: An Analysis of Six Models

    Author:
    Mia Green
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Larry Sullivan
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to identify the predictors of pretrial release (defined as release on recognizance and bail), custodial status and failure to appear among felony and misdemeanor defendants within a California Superior Court. Analyses were derived from a sample of defendants (N=1076) who were considered for release through the Court's pretrial service agency. The findings supported the earlier literature in that defendants who had a failure to appear history, probation history (felony court only) or were charged with a current violent crime were significantly less likely to be released on recognizance. Female defendants were more likely to be granted recognizance release in the felony and misdemeanor courts than male defendants. The study also found that race was a significant indicator of pretrial release status. Hispanic defendants were significantly more likely to be released on own recognizance than other defendants in the misdemeanor court, whereas Black defendants were more likely to return for court appearances after they were released. Findings of the present study contributed to the literature in two important ways. First, the study set forth to describe the similarities and differences in pretrial court processing among misdemeanor and felony courts. Secondly, the study demonstrated that misdemeanor courts adhere to state bail guidelines by restricting lenient release conditions when misdemeanants are charged with violent crimes. Future studies that include new methods of analysis (such as path analysis), the inclusion of extensive court and defendant variables and ongoing and longitudinal assessments of pretrial service agencies are suggested.

  • Factors of Pretrial Release Conditions within a Misdemeanor and Felony Court: An Analysis of Six Models

    Author:
    Mia Green
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Larry Sullivan
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to identify the predictors of pretrial release (defined as release on recognizance and bail), custodial status and failure to appear among felony and misdemeanor defendants within a California Superior Court. Analyses were derived from a sample of defendants (N=1076) who were considered for release through the Court's pretrial service agency. The findings supported the earlier literature in that defendants who had a failure to appear history, probation history (felony court only) or were charged with a current violent crime were significantly less likely to be released on recognizance. Female defendants were more likely to be granted recognizance release in the felony and misdemeanor courts than male defendants. The study also found that race was a significant indicator of pretrial release status. Hispanic defendants were significantly more likely to be released on own recognizance than other defendants in the misdemeanor court, whereas Black defendants were more likely to return for court appearances after they were released. Findings of the present study contributed to the literature in two important ways. First, the study set forth to describe the similarities and differences in pretrial court processing among misdemeanor and felony courts. Secondly, the study demonstrated that misdemeanor courts adhere to state bail guidelines by restricting lenient release conditions when misdemeanants are charged with violent crimes. Future studies that include new methods of analysis (such as path analysis), the inclusion of extensive court and defendant variables and ongoing and longitudinal assessments of pretrial service agencies are suggested.