Date of Award

Spring 4-3-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Criminal Justice


Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Gang Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Stringer

Third Advisor

Dr. Sidni Justus


As diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have increased, there has been a corresponding rise in their interactions with law enforcement personnel. The present study looks at perception of police officers amongst people with Autism Spectrum Disorder due to the high degree of interactions between these two communities. Autistic and neurotypical people were both sampled and reported their perception of police legitimacy, their perception of obligation to obey the police, their willingness to co-operate with the police, their perception of procedural justice, and whether or not they are in support of the implementation of Autism Passport or other similar ID program. Bivariate correlation analyses were conducted with all study variables with demographic characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, education level, prior contact with the police and having Autism Spectrum Disorder. Results of T-tests found that people with ASD do not have a significantly different perception of police legitimacy, willingness to co-operate with the police, or support for the implementation of an Autism passport system. Correlations were also run to determine the effects that the demographic characteristics have on an individual’s perception of police. Finally, OLS regressions were conducted to determine the extent these demographic factors predict perceptions of police legitimacy and willingness to co-operate with the police. The significant predictor for perceptions of police legitimacy was quality of prior police contact, the significant predictors for perceived procedural lawfulness were having ASD and having had poor prior contact with the police, and the significant predictors for willingness to co-operate with the police were the quality of prior contact with the police and race. Finally, having ASD served as a significant predictor for supporting the implementation of an Autism passport system. Policy implications of these finding are further discussed.

Available for download on Monday, April 12, 2027

Included in

Criminology Commons