Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Daniel Doyle

Commitee Members

Betsy Bach, Charles Couture, Kathy Kuipers


citizen perceptions of police, citizen satisfaction, community policing, crime prevention, police performance, public-police contact, urban vs rural


University of Montana


Haack, Leila, Master of Arts, Spring 2009 Sociology An Examination of Missoula Citizens’ Perceptions of Local Law Enforcement Chairperson: Dr. Daniel Doyle There has been considerable research on public perceptions of police over the years. Previous research has been mostly done in urban areas and primarily focused on race, public-police contact, and socioeconomic factors that impact public perceptions. Research has begun to look more at rural areas and at the importance of community policing. Research on public perceptions of police has largely excluded college students. This study sought to fill this void by examining attitudes towards police in a rural area with college students. Data came from a survey conducted in 2001 that gathered 418 responses from residents in Missoula, Montana. The 31 question "Missoula Police Attitude 2001 Survey" included measures of public perceptions of the Missoula Police Department (MPD). This study could help the MPD understand what are the most important factors influencing Missoula citizens' perceptions of their local police agency. Several sets of multiple regression models were estimated to assess the effect of demographic, socioeconomic, and neighborhood dynamics on citizen attitudes toward the MPD officers and the MPD as a department. The findings indicated that Missoula citizens viewed the MPD favorably and valued both community policing and crime prevention. Police professionalism and confidence in police had the greatest effect on the overall satisfaction with the MPD. These findings suggest a number of specific steps that the MPD could take to improve its already high performance rating.

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© Copyright 2009 Leila M. Haack