The Administration of Police Consent Decrees: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Reducing Pattern and Practice of Police Use of Force

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As a reform instrument, federal consent decrees have been used by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to address issues associated with unconstitutional police misconduct. A problematic area of concern is police behavior involving the excessive use of force on minority citizens. The purpose of this comparative case study was to determine whether or not the implementation of consent decrees in the New Orleans and Seattle Police Departments resulted in a reduction of the use of force 3 years after implementation, in comparison to 3 years preconsent decree implementation. This study aims to contribute to closing the gap in understanding regarding what policy implementations may be useful in correcting patterns of behavior in police misconduct and in closing the gap between best practice conduct and actual patterns of behavior and unconstitutional practice. Integrated with this study, Lewin’s change model is used as a guiding philosophical framework for this study, positing that organizational and underlying behavioral change occurs in three phases: (a) unfreezing, (b) changing, and (c) refreezing. These three steps explain the process by which longstanding patterns of adverse police misconduct may be altered, how resistance may be addressed, and how new ideal behaviors may be normalized and habituated.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Administration, Law Enforcement