Police lights on a car

Success in Undergraduate Research

Criminal justice student Payton Perry publishes second major article
By: Marissa Carney

Penn State Altoona student Payton Perry published the article “Passing, but Far from Perfect: Assessing Public Confidence in Police and Desire for Reform in Pennsylvania” in the December 2021 issue of Policing, a leading policy and practice publication in criminology and criminal justice.

Payton Perry

Payton Perry standing next to a poster presentation showcasing her research.

Credit: Provided

Perry is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in sociology. A member of the Integrated Social Science Research Lab (ISSRL), Perry co-authored the article with Nathan Kruis, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Nicholas Rowland, professor of sociology, both at Penn State Altoona, and Richard Donohue from the RAND Corporation.

The article shows that a representative sample of Pennsylvanians have general confidence and satisfaction with their local police, but participants in the study also expressed the need for some reform. The most supported reforms are related to enhancing officer training regarding mental illness and de-escalation techniques, for example, as well as implementing policing models that increase officer transparency and accountability.

Perry published a second article, also in December 2021, in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, a publication dedicated to research about the care of persons with substance use problems.

Exploring first responders' perceptions of medication for addiction treatment: Does stigma influence attitudes?” explores the link between the provider-based stigma of opioid users and attitudes toward Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT). Perry co-authored the article with Kruis and Kate McLean, associate professor of administration of justice at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The study reveals that first responders generally hold negative attitudes toward MAT and that many, in fact, feel its use simply puts “more drugs on the street.”

“Most undergraduate students would be lucky to publish one paper in their entire academic career,” states Rowland, who co-runs the ISSR lab with Kruis. “Imagine our surprise when one of our lab students published two articles in the same month—it is exceptional.”

“Without this lab research experience, I would not have stayed at Penn State Altoona, full stop,” Perry says. “Now that I am a senior and applying to advanced graduate training, I want to thank my co-authors, not only for their help in this process but for making it possible for me to publish at all. It is something that a few years ago I could hardly have dreamed of.”

"Payton is one of the longest-standing undergraduates in the lab," says Rowland. "This means not only does she work on a number of research projects, but she is instrumental in mentoring new students who are not yet accustomed to the weekly, seminar-style lab meetings. She demonstrates by example what it means to be a good citizen of the lab.”

“Seeing a hardworking student like Payton be so successful is truly amazing to watch,” adds Kruis. “It is reassuring as a faculty member to know that her future is bright after her time here at Penn State Altoona.”

“Passing, but Far From Perfect” was generously supported by a Research Development Grant from the Office of Research and Engagement headed by Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Architecture Corey Gracie-Griffin.

Perry and her co-authors wish to thank the PA Chiefs of Police Association for circulating the survey at the core of “Exploring first responders' perceptions of medication for addiction treatment.”

The Integrated Social Science Research Lab is made possible by Penn State Altoona's Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Science, headed by Dr. Leigh Ann Haefner, and is embedded in the criminal justice and sociology programs coordinated by Mary Ann Probst, Esq., and Dr. Karyn McKinney-Marvasti, respectively.