USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)


Matthew Viera

First Advisor

Barnali Dixon, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rebecca Johns Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas Smith, Ph.D.


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued



United States Law Enforcement has come under the watchful eye of the public in recent years due to the Ferguson Riots of 2014 as well as nation-wide protests during the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd, a man who died at the hands of police for the suspected use of a fake $20 bill. Given that the contemporary police force appears to be engaging in increasingly more violent interactions with the public, specifically the poor and people of color, it is critical to observe and assess the practices of police officers within cities that are becoming more diverse in terms of race and class. This study presents a geospatial analysis of police killings that have occurred within diverse and populous Floridian regions such as Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee counties of the west, as well as Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties of the east. The study analyzed the relationships between police killings and factors such as socioeconomic status and minority status at the neighborhood level. In addition, the study analyzed the relationship between gentrifying areas and police killings to determine if police kill a greater number of citizens in neighborhoods that surround up-and-coming, economically thriving, upper-class communities in comparison to neighborhoods that don’t surround these communities. Geographic information systems (GIS) software was used to conduct a geospatial analysis using crowdsourced data containing locations of police killings of civilians in order to determine fatality “hot spots” from the years 2000 to 2020 which will then be overlaid with census data containing the socioeconomic and racial factors. This study presented potential relationships between the rate of police killings and neighborhood demographic characteristics, specifically, socio-economic status and racial or ethnic identity through the use of cartographic representation. It was found that police kill a higher proportion of citizens in areas that are eligible to gentrify in comparison to areas that were already gentrifying during the for both west and east Florida during the study period.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program University of South Florida, St. Petersburg May 10th, 2021.