University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - The Politicization of Crime and Its Implications
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The Politicization of Crime and its Implications

By: Komysha Hassan | Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Knuckey


The relationship between law enforcement and the public has recently come under scrutiny after a number of high-profile deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers. The ensuing public outcry has given way to a wide-ranging debate about the origins of such tension and why it has continued to manifest with such vigor despite apparent progress. This research attempts to uncover the underpinnings of this tension through a historical review of the development of the law enforcement institution and the narrative of crime in society. Specifically, this research investigates the role of federalization and politicization on crime and its impact on the relationship between law enforcement and the public. My findings suggest that the politicization of crime has created a false narrative that distorts the racial and class composition of crime, unnecessarily favors use of force and confrontational contact with the public, and compromises the integrity of crime statistics and their collection. This false narrative undermines the core objective of law enforcement — public safety — and negatively impacts institutional goals and mindset, the implications of which reach beyond the police to society at large and the policies that define criminality and shape crime control.

KEYWORDS: police; law enforcement; politicization; politics; public policy; federalization; police power; crime; crime narrative; penal; police institution

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