Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Josh M. Scacco

Committee Member 1

Natalie Lambert

Committee Member 2

Josh Boyd


Crises triggered by the officer-involved shootings of Black men were compounded by poor initial press conferences led by police and city leaders. However, these moments are ripe for the use of a reconciliatory tone, as speakers find themselves not only responding to the present crisis, but a history of crises between police and communities of color. Three recent, prominent cases are chosen as case studies for inquiry: the case of Ferguson Police Department, North Charleston Police Department, and Tulsa Police Department. A reconciliatory tone model using the DICTION text analysis program and conceptual network analysis is used alongside qualitative review to better understand the rhetorical tone of these initial press conferences, how these three cases compare in their rhetorical tone, how elements of a reconciliatory tone are used and interact in speech, and what critiques and recommendations can be made for future situations similar. Findings indicate that none of the three cases used a reconciliatory tone to a high level. Instead, all three cases used a tone fairly similar to that found in typical police press conferences. Future responses to similar situations should consider the limitations that prevent an effective dissemination of information at police-led press conferences and should instead consider the benefit of entering a process of reconciliation with the community.