Security in Semi-Public Spaces: Redefining Legal Gray Areas

Ashley Thompson

Dr. Matthew Howell

Department of Government

Certain organizations are owned privately but function similar to a public area, such as a church or bank. These areas are currently considered private spaces, but this ignores their public component. They may benefit from the creation of a new phrase, “semi-public spaces”, in order to begin conversations to address the security needs of the people in these areas. Besides the prevention of shootings, this terminology would allow law makers and creators of public policy to address issues faced by these highly targeted areas for robbery and domestic issues. By using interviews, I was able to understand the security needs and concerns of those in semi-public spaces. The interviews fell into three different categories: religious organization, open-area space, and office style setting. My expectations of the results of this study were that the interviewees would have more concerns for robberies and hostage situations rather than mass shootings. However, it was a theme in most of my conversations with my interviewees that media attention has sparked fear on this topic as well as robberies and internal threats. The concentration of this topic also shifted to the representation of these spaces during the interviews. Several of the respondents stated that due to funds, they were unable to properly protect themselves and wished that the government would do more to assist them. With the creation of this category, these problems would be better addressed for semi-public space users and owners.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-6-2019


Matthew L. Howell

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Government and Economics

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Government and Economics