Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Shelby Lewis


The interrelationship between the police and their political environment is addressed in this study. The Focus is placed on attempts made by black community residents and city officials to check abuses of police power and to bring about change within the Atlanta and Newark Police Departments. The key issues relevant to police-political environment relations in predominantly black cities are identified 3S: recruitment, selection, and training; residency; selection and removal of the chief police administrator; police brutality; and civilian complaint redress.

It is concluded that the political environment has played a role in bringing about change in the two police departments, but most of the change has been short range. Much citizen activity has been centered around police brutality incidents rather than around long range, systemwide change. Several major reasons have been given for the Failure of community organizations to bring about more comprehensive, long range change: limited resources, ineffective strategies and lack of political clout.

This study raises the question of whether a black mayor or police administrator makes a difference. It is concluded that the mere presence of black officials and administrators will not insure change in the police. The presence of black officials will often reduce the activity in the black community because blacks will be expecting their elected representatives to be accountable. It is suggested, however, that if a commitment to bring about meaningful change is received from black candidates, citizens may be in a better position to demand action from the officials after they are in office.