Date of Award

Summer 4-12-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas P. DeVore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Laurie Love, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Curtis G. McIntyre, Ed.D.


Purpose. The purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to understand:

Questions 1 and 2: How do police officers in major metropolitan law enforcement organizations experiencing crime spikes since 2008 perceive the impacts of the media coverage on them personally/professionally?

Questions 3 and 4: Is there a significant difference about the perception of how media coverage impacts patrol officers personally and professionally in major cities experiencing crime spikes since 2008 based on gender/race?

Methodology. The study used a phenomenological mixed-methods case study approach collecting both quantitative and qualitative data.

Findings. An analysis of the data resulted in ten major findings and two dominant themes related to police roles and reactions. The theory of the “muzzling of the sheepdog” states that police officers if muzzled by policy, politics, and media, will become unwilling to protect the sheep. The study explored media’s scrutiny of police officers as well as the negative impacts this muzzling effect is having on police officers’ satisfaction, performance, and productivity and the implications of these effects on crime.

Conclusions. As a result, the following conclusions were formed: Solutions rest in our nation’s ability to partner academic knowledge and scientifically proven best policing practices, void of news media sensationalism, to unmuzzle our nation’s police officers, who strongly agree both the “Ferguson Effect” and the effects of sensationalized reporting are affecting their motivation, safety, willingness to enforce laws, and causing them to operate in career survival mode. Police officers state their motivation and satisfaction with law enforcement is negatively impacted by decriminalization of laws, referred to by this researcher as “legalization by legislation,” and dissatisfaction with organizational leadership, policies, pay, and workload.

Recommendations. Based upon the findings, it is recommended law enforcement executives, policy advisors, elected officials and community groups abate the muzzling factors causing police officers to become less proactive and hesitant to ensure the safety of our communities by focusing on research from the police officers’ perspective, fostering accurate news portrayals versus infotainment, promoting policies that do not seek to legalize by legislation, and increasing law enforcement executive support.