Rylan Simpson, Ph.D. Police Officer Perception Project (POPP)

Rylan Simpson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5A 1S6

News Coverage

Public perception: How does an officer's physical appearance impact public opinion
"'It is possible that even mere presence factors (i.e., absent contact), such as the appearance of police officers in different attire and patrol capacities, may be enough to impact their perceived approachability, accountability, respectability, and so on,' posits Rylan Simpson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. ... 'Appearance does not not exist in a vacuum: Perceived visual characteristics may shed insight into perceived philosophical characteristics (e.g., guardian versus warrior). Officers must remain vigilant of the effects of their presence and how they can manipulate their presence in order to enhance public/police relations,' Simpson adds." Read the full magazine article!

UCI doctoral student teams with IPD to study factors that influence perception of police
"The public’s perception of police is impacted by attire and other factors, a recent study found. The Irvine Police Department (IPD) partnered with University of California, Irvine doctoral candidate Rylan Simpson to examine how attire and patrol strategy esthetics impact people’s perceptions of the police. Simpson’s Police Officer Perception Project, or P.O.P.P., was published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology, with a second article featured in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. His findings are summarized in a short video produced by IPD that can be seen at https://youtu.be/X2KOedgt5Lk." Read the full press release!

What do you see: The officer or their attire?
"Rylan Simpson wanted to know: when people spot a police officer, what do they judge: the officer, their attire, their mode of transportation, or their expression? In the spring of 2015, the question seemed especially relevant, and continues to be today as some sectors of the public view police departments nationwide with intense scrutiny. Police behavior – both good and ill – has much impact on officers’ reputation, but Simpson, a Ph.D. student, sought to find out if attire and other aesthetic factors also made a difference. ... 'A good project that is well-rehearsed and shows value is going to be well-received. Practitioners have an important role in this broader research question. Let them engage in the role and the conversation.'" Read the full interview!

What police at Youth Court Summit want the public to know
"Rylan Simpson, a doctoral student in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at UC Irvine, began the panel with an experiment to show that small differences in how police present themselves can affect perception. 'It’s easy to get wrapped up in the dismal, to think there’s no way to improve things,' he said. 'That’s not true. There are things we can do to make things better. By thinking about what the role of police is and what we want it to be, we may be able to change it by changing things like the way police look.'" Read the full news article!


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