Positive Policing: Integrating Science and Evidence-Based Policing to Bridge the Us Versus Them Divide

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



The profession of law enforcement is at a crossroads. Police departments across the country are struggling to renew trust and legitimacy with the members of the communities they serve. On one side, officers who take pride in their profession are at a loss as to why they are now the subject of disdain. On the other side, community members feel as though the police are not fulfilling their primary obligation – to protect and serve. Despite the best efforts of practitioners and academics, the mindset, culture, and training of law enforcement has not succeeded in bridging this Us versus Them divide. Police reform recommendations have been postulated to address this issue. Unfortunately, the recommendations for establishing trust and legitimacy between the police and the members of their community have not been universally realized. Well-intentioned policy reform measures and subsequent training have not addressed the main obstacles of this Us versus Them divide: a lack of self-awareness (insight into one’s own thoughts) and a lack of understanding (acknowledging the thoughts and emotions of others). This capstone will propose the field of Positive Policing, founded on the principles of positive psychology, as a pathway towards achieving the policy reform recommendations of practitioners and academics. The mission of Positive Policing is to integrate scientific research and evidence-based practice to provide a framework for law enforcement officers to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, to the right effects. There are pathways forward for bridging the divide, but they require an ethos change in policing. Positive Policing offers a framework for this necessary change.


positive psychology, positive policing, us versus them, tribalism, polarization, community policing, belief systems, procedural justice


Business/Work, Other Topics


Professional proposal

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Date Posted: 21 October 2020