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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Second Advisor

Joya Misra

Third Advisor

Patricia Warren

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Papachristos

Subject Categories

Criminology | Race and Ethnicity | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Work, Economy and Organizations


The 2012 murder of unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin etched into the American conscience, the undeniable history of race and policing. While Martin was not in fact killed by police, the legitimation of neighborhood watch by law enforcement as well as law enforcements’ handling of the case from start to finish has been seen as emblematic of the lawfulness of state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies. Since Martin’s death, there have been countless other Black boys, girls, men, and women killed by police and civilian vigilantes alike. Waves of protest and civilian uprisings against the unjust practices of law enforcement and racialized police violence more specifically, have prompted widespread calls for revolutionary police reform. While some cities have responded by decreasing police budgets as well as disbanding local police forces, others have focused on more traditional reform efforts such as increasing racial diversity and community policing. The existing literature on police reform efforts yield mixed and inconsistent findings, especially as they relate to increasing racial diversity. In three inter-connected papers, my dissertation tackles the issue of racial diversity in police forces. I draw on 48 qualitative in-depth interviews with Black police officers in a large urban police department to explore the ways racial diversity may or may not be valuable in the quest for more equitable and less violent policing practices across races. First, I find that the inconsistencies in the existing literature may be explained by these studies lack of consideration of a more diverse Black experience. Second, I show that Black officers also vary in their responses to racialized police violence, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and the blue lives matter agenda. Utilizing DuBois’s conception of double consciousness and the veil, I find that all Black officers possess a double consciousness that enables them to see the world through both a Black racialized lens and blue organizational lens. Third, I draw on racialized organizational theory (Ray 2019), relational inequality theory (Tomaskovic-Devey and Avent-Holt 2019) and inequality regimes (Acker 2006) to reveal that police departments act as racial projects that perpetuate inequalities both internally and externally.


Available for download on Monday, September 01, 2025