Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This mixed-method dissertation 1) identifies and describes common local law enforcement public relations activities, including reputation management, community relations and engagement, media relations, social media management, and internal communications; 2) addresses perceived similarities and differences associated with local law enforcement public relations relative to peers within the same level of government (e.g., public relations in the parks department of the same municipality); 3) identifies distinctive and reinforces common government public relations environmental characteristics, challenges, and opportunities associated with local law enforcement; 4) provides insights regarding how local law enforcement are using online tools (e.g., websites and social media) for public relations purposes; and 5) prescribes some best practices for local law enforcement public relations. This research addresses departmental level and “mission or task” gaps in the government public relations literature – particularly the Government Communication Decision Wheel line of research – through interviews with 20 local law enforcement public relations and leadership personnel, representing 16 local law enforcement agencies from across the United States. Furthermore, this research adds a unique contribution to the body of dialogic communication and online relationship building literature through content analyses of website homepages, Twitter profiles, and tweets for local law enforcement agencies representing municipalities with populations of 50,000 people to more than 500,000 people. Some of the most interesting findings in this research relate to local law enforcement perceptions of how their public relations activities and environmental characteristics are different from other local governmental departments and local governmental agencies. Among the key themes they shared were the demand they face and being “24/7”; the levels of attention paid to, interest in, and media scrutiny they are exposed to; and the nature and complexity of law enforcement interactions and information.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Park, Hyojung