The current study examines the impact of the Ferguson Effect and related public scrutiny on college students’ motivation to become police officers. Using data from 654 students located at two US universities with over 20,000 students, the results indicate that students’ who perceived that officer motivation and dangerousness has been affected by negative media scrutiny had significantly higher log-odds of strongly agreeing that such scrutiny has negatively impacted their trajectory to work in the police profession and had higher log-odds of strongly agreeing that it has made them apprehensive about applying for police positions in comparison to the reference category. The current study highlights how the negative attention directed towards law enforcement is adversely influencing college students’ motivation to enter the police profession. Police departments must make a concerted effort to mitigate such negative scrutiny in order to ensure a strong candidate pool for prospective police officers.
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