American Policing in the 21st Century: Legitimacy as a Key Concern

May 5th, 2015

Tom R. Tyler*  & Jeffrey A. Fagan**Φ


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This is a moment for the reconsideration of policing in America.  In that effort we should examine the successes and failures of policing over the last several decades.  We should also ask what works and what does not work in policing today.  And, perhaps most importantly we need to explore what policing should be about in the 21st century.

While there are disagreements about all of these issues, there is widespread agreement that this is a pivotal moment in American policing.  The last similar period of reexamination was the 1960’s when the Kerner Commission wrote an influential report on American policing following a period of widespread urban unrest.  As was true at that moment many long held assumptions about the purposes and methods of policing were questioned.

Every era presents the police, the courts and the criminal justice system more generally, with distinct issues.  We are emerging from an historical period during which a key law enforcement concern was the control of violent crime.  We should first remind ourselves that the backdrop of current policing models lies in the high levels of crime in over three decades starting in the 1960s, and the feelings of disorder and fear that these high crime levels created in many American communities.[1] For many in policing reductions in the level of crime have been the primary or even the sole criterion against which policies and practices were evaluated.

For over two decades, the level of violent crime has steadily declined[2], at least in part due to the police.  At the same time, the police have generally become more professional and effective, as documented in the 2004 report of the National Academy of Sciences.[3]  There is a lot to be proud of in American policing and in the role the police played in meeting the challenges of this earlier era.

Today, violent crime is at historically low levels and has remained so for the past decade.  This creates an opportunity to rethink the goals of policing as we move forward in the 21st century.  In rethinking these goals, we believe that it is particularly important to focus attention on building public trust and confidence in the police, and in turn, to enhance police legitimacy.

Why should police legitimacy be a central concern in discussions about criminal justice?  First, the police are the central point of contact between the public and the criminal justice system.  While people deal with the courts on occasion, the overwhelming majority of their contacts are with police officers.  Hence, it is police policies and practices that define law to the average person, as well as to those involved in repeated encounters with the criminal justice system.

The police are also a central concern because during the same decades in which crime declined, public trust in the police has not correspondingly increased in America.  It has remained about the same, with only 50-60% of adult Americans expressing trust and confidence in the police.  Further, there has been a large and persistent racial gap in trust, with African Americans 20-30% less likely to express trust in the police.  This gap has not disappeared as the crime rate has fallen.[4]  These low levels of trust have contributed to a recurring series of racially tinged controversies about the actions of police officers, in incidents ranging from the Rodney King case in Los Angeles to the killing of Amadou Diallo in New York and most recently, the death in police custody of Eric Garner in Staten Island.[5]

Given the currently low crime rates and resulting public feelings of greater safety, this is an ideal time to address the issue of police legitimacy and to make building trust and confidence a core objective of 21st century police policies and practices.  Such a focus on public trust and confidence in the police need not undermine control crime efforts.  Instead, building police legitimacy can be a different and, studies suggest, an equally or even more effective way to manage crime.  Recent research reviews make clear both that aggressive, force based policing is at best minimally useful as a crime management strategy[6] and that this approach does  not build trust and confidence in the police.  Studies similarly suggest that building trust in the police, the courts and the law is as effective or even more effective as a long-term crime control approach.[7]  When people have greater trust in the police, they are more likely to both obey the law and cooperate with the police.[8]  Legitimacy facilitates crime control both directly, because it lowers people’s likelihood of committing crimes, and indirectly, because it increases public cooperation, which allows the police to achieve higher clearance rates.

A focus on legitimacy is not a new one for policing.  During his early efforts to organize the police in London, Robert Peel famously talked about “policing by consent” and argued for the virtues of public support for police activities.[9]  This theme has been a part of policing ever since that time.  It was particularly prominent in America during the 20th century, when community policing policies were developed.[10]

Legitimacy based policing is also valuable because it facilitates the achievement of a broader set of community goals.  One is to provide a framework for reshaping police forces to help address the challenges currently facing American cities.  Those challenges involve addressing issues of economic development and include high quality education, adequate municipal services and support for new and small businesses.  As crime has ebbed, the need for a large and insular police force has declined, providing an opportunity to rethink the structure of police forces.  Promoting legitimacy is first a path to building the type of cooperation with the public that allows for the co-policing of communities to maintain social order.  Working closely with the community will allow police officers to more efficiently maintain the gains in crime control that have already been achieved, freeing up scarce public resources to meet other challenges.  For example, resources that are currently being used to support the police can be used to support economic development in the community.

Finally, models of policing for the 21st century should be based upon the recognition that “you cannot arrest your way out of crime.”[11]  Crime control is dependent upon economic and social development.  And a trusted police force is central to providing the background of reassurance that encourages the people in communities to join together to revitalize themselves socially and economically by motivating people to work in them, shop in them, go out for entertainment in them and otherwise actively participate in community life.[12]  Fear of crime undermined communities in an earlier era; but today the police can help build communities by projecting safety and reassurance.

Fortunately, we know a lot about how to strengthen trust in the police.  Research has made it very clear that the public’s evaluations focus on whether they feel that the police—either police departments or individual police officers—are exercising their authority fairly.[13]  This procedural justice finding has been widely replicated and suggests that people care both about whether the police make decisions fairly and whether they treat members of the public respectfully.[14]

In terms of fair decision-making, the public wants to be listened to when policies are being created, as well as to have an opportunity to state their case when dealing with individual police officers.  They also want explanations for police actions that allow them to determine that the police are acting in unbiased ways and in accordance with policies that connect to understandable and shared objectives.

In the case of quality of treatment, people look for an acknowledgement of their needs and concerns, as well as for evidence of the police’s sincere efforts to act on behalf of the community. The issue of respect has been particularly central to recent public controversies involving the police, where people believe that the police treat members of the public, especially those belonging to minority groups, in demeaning, discourteous, illegal and otherwise disrespectful ways.

If people believe that the police are fair, they will trust them and defer to their authority.[15]  They would also cooperate by reporting crimes and criminals, providing testimony, and otherwise help call offenders to account.  Thus, violent confrontations with the police, such as those recently experienced in the aftermath of the police killings in Ferguson and Staten Island , are less probable to occur, which would, in turn, make it less likely for the public to react to those incidents with immediate anger.[16]  If the police are trusted, then people are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt, allowing the police time to investigate and respond to contentious law enforcement actions.  Overall, the public is willing to give trusted police officers greater discretion in their efforts to enforce the law.

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NYPD is one of many police departments that have faced criticism from urban communities. Photo by Joi Ito, licensed under CC BY 2.0

These findings have clear policy implications.  They suggest that policing can gain effectiveness when every implemented policy and practice is evaluated not only in terms of its crime-control utility, but also in terms of its perceived fairness.  Every encounter with the public is a teachable moment, and police departments and officers should ask what they are teaching the public about the police.  In other words, legitimacy is something that is earned, much like any form of capital is accrued, and the consent of the governed is earned through experiences with the police that are imbued with dignity, respect, and fairness. Paying attention to the consequences of citizen interactions helps build the type of capital-by-consent that, as it accumulates, becomes general police legitimacy. The public must consent to accepting police authority, and the police can communicate through their actions that their use of authority justifies such consent.

This approach matters because it provides a new perspective on a series of issues that have created ongoing controversy between citizens and police, including racial profiling, broken windows policing, aggressive street stops, and police use of force.[17]  In each case, the public perception of—and reaction to—what the police are doing has become an issue in and of itself beyond actual police actions.  In today’s media climate and in a world in which seemingly every encounter with the police is recorded by someone, this appears inevitable.  In turn, the police need to reflect in advance how their actions are likely to be viewed by the public—both those likely to have contact with officers and people in the community at large.  The answer to this question should shape both what the police do and how they do it.  In particular, when the police have reasons for taking actions that impact upon peoples’ lives, they need to focus on taking those actions in ways that the public will experience as being fair.  Of course, we argue that in addition to its inevitability, a focus on the public and public concerns has advantages for the police because it leads to a more cooperative relationship between the police and the community, something envisioned in early discussions of community policing, but often lacking in police-citizen relationships today.

To achieve these gains police officers need to be trained to recognize the importance of fair treatment, as well as being provided with skills and tactics to achieve the goal of strengthening public trust.  Police training can enable commanders to identify policies that build trust and help officers on the street to know how to conduct themselves in ways that achieve the same goal.  Such training is not only for the benefit of the public.  Better-trained officers steeped in  tactics for deescalating conflict and building trust are less likely to encounter resistance and hostility on the street, less likely to need to resort to the use of force, and therefore more likely to be safe.

We need to evaluate these policies and think about how they are experienced by the public. For example, being repeatedly stopped by the police on the street or in a car leads people to question law enforcement policies regardless of how fairly the police officers involved are acting in a particular encounter on the streets.[18]  Again, the point is that when policies and practices are being evaluated, the evaluation should include not only to a consideration of the immediate impact of a policy on crime, but also to an analysis of the impact of that same policy on the trust in the police, something which has a long-term impact on crime and the community as a whole.

Understanding the impact of law enforcement policies has become a particularly central issue in recent years because the police have increasingly sought to prevent crime through proactive policing.  Proactive policing involves efforts to deal with future crime via current police contacts that find guns and drugs, as well as communicating risk and thereby lowering the rate of subsequent misconduct.

This approach inherently brings the police into more frequent contact with the public, either through broken windows approaches that focus on arrests for minor crimes or broad stop and search practices with respect to the ongoing search for drugs and guns.  Research findings suggest that a long-term consequence of these broader proactive police practices has been to undermine trust and build hostility toward the police [19]This is especially true when the police engage in widespread stops of innocent people. Additionally, arrests for minor crimes draw people further into contacts with the criminal justice system, which have the general effect of undermining police legitimacy,[20] as well as causing the people being policed psychological harm both through suffering the indignity of being treated like a suspect and possibly experiencing humiliating and demeaning treatment.[21]

The nature of police contacts is particularly important when the police are dealing with young people.  Unfortunately, such contacts are frequent because young people are involved in a large number of the crimes that occur.[22]  We know from research on adolescent development that young people lack the cognitive and emotion management skills needed to make good judgments about rule-breaking.[23]  Fortunately, almost all the adolescents who commit crimes go on to develop into law-abiding adults if left alone.[24]  On the other hand, contact with criminal justice authorities, such as the police, the courts and the prison system, diminishes the likelihood of such positive development and increases the probability of future criminal conduct.[25]  The negative impact of such contacts is greatly diminished when the police are sensitive to the fairness of their decision-making and the quality of their interpersonal treatment.  In fact, fair treatment has the potential to build legitimacy.[26]  Hence, we particularly need to focus on the nature of police contact with adolescents.

These findings are counter to the arguments of the broken windows approach, which argues that minor crimes are the gateway to future major crimes.[27]  However that argument itself ignores the literature on adolescent development, much of it aided by recent findings in neuroscience, which shows that adolescents’ cognitive and emotional regulation abilities are not fully developed.  As these individual capacities develop through maturation the frequency of law breaking behavior declines.  This occurs irrespective of what the police do in response to crime.

Beyond juveniles, there are several other groups who are important for the police.  One is the general population of high crime neighborhoods.  A key finding of recent research on crime is that even within high crime areas most violent crime is concentrated in a small proportion of the people who can be identified through techniques such as network analysis.[28]  This means that in any area there is a large group of residents whose cooperation can be engaged through trust building strategies, while a small group of violent offenders is managed through surveillance and sanctioning.  In such situations, targeted strategies against violence are the most productive.  Targeted police activity can lower the rate of particular crimes in chosen neighborhoods in the short term.[29]

The other smaller group that is of concern are persistent violent offenders.  If the police have the trust of most of the people in the community they can target their resources toward that group.  However, it should not be assumed that only the threat or the use of force matters.  Recent studies by Tracey Meares, Andrew Papachristos and Jeffrey Fagan show that even those with a history of violence respond favorably to trust building strategies based upon respectful treatment.[30]

Finally efforts to change the culture of policing need to focus on addressing police officers job related concerns.[31]  Two such concerns are safety and health.  As everyone is aware, policing is a dangerous job and not only dangerous out on the street.  The stress of policing leads to high levels of suicide, alcoholism, divorce and physical and mental health maladies.[32]  The rare risk of being shot is unfortunately not the only danger that policing poses, although it may be the most visible and salient.  The daily task of policing under sometimes dangerous and hostile conditions promotes stress which has broad negative consequences for the lives of officers.[33]

Interviews with police officers suggest that police officers want from their commanders the same types of fairness that the public wants from them.[34]  And, like members of the public, officers often feel that they do not receive basic fairness within their own station houses.  Hence, it is also important to rethink the organization of police forces to give field officers more opportunities to express their views, better explanations of the goal of department policies, more transparent procedures for discipline and promotion, and more respectful treatment.  If officers experience these types of fairness in their station houses they are then more likely to display them on the street.[35]  Procedural justice is beneficial at three levels: within the organization, where it promotes better on the job behavior; for the officer, who is safer and healthier; and for the community, which experiences a style of policing that is more cooperative and less likely to create anger and lead to conflict.

Why?  Studies show that police officers who feel fairly treated do their jobs better[36];  have fewer of the symptoms of stress that medical studies link to problems with physical health and to alcoholism, divorce, and suicide[37]; are less likely to use force in their everyday interactions with the community; and are generally more likely to treat people in the community fairly.  This style of policing, in turn, minimizes conflict and promotes both the acceptance of police authority and officer safety.[38]

In making the points that we have, we have often referred to research findings.  One of the most important recommendations that we have is that public policy should be evidence based.  This argument is an important one in all areas of government but it is particularly important within policing.  Evidence based criminology provides a research basis for evaluating policies and practices related to crime and to policing.  In the case of legitimacy based policing there are a number of studies that support the points I am making today.  But beyond the ideas discussed here, we strongly endorse the principle that policing be informed by empirical studies that tell us what works. The argument that a medicine has to be proven to work before it can be prescribed applies equally to a model of policing, regardless of who is advocating it.

Of course for such research to be most useful those studying the police need to have a broader focus for such research than just the crime rate.  We also have to study what shapes legitimacy.  Currently those both those studying the factors shaping police performance and police commanders who want to have metrics for evaluating performance often default to using the crime rate because other numbers are not collected on a systematic basis.  If trust and confidence measures were more commonly collected it would be possible to benchmark police performance against public views and not just in terms of police crime rate statistics.

Beyond research the Federal government needs to support research and development of innovations in policing.  Just as it promoted community policing during that era, the Federal government should promote legitimacy based policing by providing funds for training and for the additional costs associated with initiating such programs, for example, costs associated with embedding officers in neighborhoods to create mutual trust and support.[39]   And these programs should be rigorously evaluated before being brought to scale.

There is a much cited saying that a crisis is also an opportunity.  While this is a turbulent time for American policing, it is also an occasion for rethinking the mission of our police in a 21st century society. While there are disagreements about the successes and failures of policing in recent decades and the strength and weaknesses of current police policies and practices, there is widespread agreement that this is a potentially transformative moment in American policing and that making that transformation can only occur through a consideration of the goals of the police in our society.

 

 

* Macklin Fleming Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology, Yale University

**Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia University

Φ Suggested citation: Tom R. Tyler & Jeffrey A. Fagan, American Policing in the 21st Century: Legitimacy as a Key Concern, 40 Fordham Urb. L. J.  119 (2015)

[1] David H. Bayley, & Christine Nixon, The Changing Environment for Policing, 1985-2008, in New Perspectives in Policing: Papers from the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety 131, 132 (2014) available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/ncj230576.pdf.

[2] Table 3.106.2012, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online,” available at   http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t31062012.pdf.

[3] National Research Council Fairness and effectiveness in policing: The evidence 309 (Wesley Skogan. & Kathleen Frydl eds., The National Academies Press (2004). .

[4] Public views about the police have been surveyed by a variety of groups, including the Gallup Poll and the Pew Research Center.  Results are available from those groups directly or through the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online.” Table 2.12.2011, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online, available at http://www.albany.edu/ sourcebook/ pdf/ t2122011.pdf.

[5] Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center indicate dramatically different understandings of each of these police related events.  In each case African Americans were found to be much more skeptical of police neutrality and of the motivations of police officers than are Whites. Sharp Racial Divisions in Reactions to Brown, Garner Decisions, Pew Research Center 1 (Dec. 8, 2014), http://www.people-press.org/files/2014/12/12-8-14-Police-Race-release.pdf.

[6] Raymond Paternoster, How Much Do We Really Know About Criminal Deterrence?, 100 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 765, 818 (2010); Travis C. Pratt et al., The empirical status of deterrence theory: A meta-analysis,  in Taking stock: The status of criminological theory 367 383 ( Francis T. Cullen, John Paul Wright, & Kristie R. Blevins, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2008); John D. McCluskey,Police Requests for Compliance: Coercive and procedurally just tactics (LFB Scholarly Publishing,2003).

[7] Tom R. Tyler,Legitimacy and criminal justice: The benefits of self-regulation,  7 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 307, 307 (2009).; Tom R. Tyler& Jonathan Jackson, Popular legitimacy and the exercise of legal authority: Motivating compliance, cooperation and engagement,20 Psychology, Public Policy and Law 78, 78 (2014)  available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2292517.

Jeffrey Fagan & Alex R. Piquero Rational choice and developmental influences on recidivism among adolescent felony offenders. 4 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 715, 739 (2007); Jonathan Jackson et al., Why do people comply with the law?  Legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions, 52 British Journal of Criminology1051, 1063 (2012); Jonathan Jackson et al., Just authority?: Trust in the police in England and Wales (Routledge, 2012); Jason Sunshine & Tom R. Tyler, The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in shaping public support for policing, 37 Law and Society Review 513, 515 (2003); Tom R. Tyler & Jeffrey Fagan, Legitimacy and Cooperation: Why Do People Help the Police Fight Crime in Their Communities?, 6 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 231, 265 (2008); Tom R. Tyler et al., Street stops and police legitimacy: Teachable Moments in Young Urban Men’s Legal Socialization  11 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 751, 751 (2014).

 

[9] Susan A. Lentz& Robert H. Chaires= The Invention of Peel’s Principles: A Study of Policing ‘Textbook’ History 35 Journal of Criminal Justice 69, 70 (2007).

[10] Leadership and Procedural Justice: A New Element in Police Leadership (Craig Fischer ed., Police Executive Research Forum, 2014).

[11] Bill Geller (2011).  Building our way out of crime: the transformative power of police-community developer parternerships.  Washington, D.C.: COPS.

[12] Tammy Rinehart Kochel, Can Police Legitimacy Promote Collective Efficacy?, 29 Justice Quarterly\ 384, 414 (2012); Tom R. Tyler& Jonathan Jackson,Popular Legitimacy and the Exercise of Legal Authority: Motivating Compliance, Cooperation and Engagement20 Psychology, Public Policy and Law78, 80 (2014).

[13] Rod K. Brunson & Jacinta M. Gau, Race, Place, and Policing the Inner-City, in The Oxford Handbook of Police and Policing 362 (Michael D. Reisig & Robert J. Kane eds. 2014); Tom R. Tyler & Yuen J. Huo, Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts (2002); Tom R. Tyler, Why People Obey the Law (2006); Mengyan Dai, James Frank & Ivan Sun, Procedural Justice During Police-Citizen Encounters: The Effects of Process-Based Policing on Citizen Compliance and Demeanor, 39 J. Crim. Just. 159 (2011); Jacinta M. Gau & Rod K. Brunson, Procedural Justice and Order Maintenance Policing: A Study of Inner-City Young Men’s Perceptions of Police Legitimacy, 27 Just. Q. 255 (2010), available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07418820902763889; Lyn Hinds, Youth, Police Legitimacy and Informal Contact, 24 J. Police & Crim. Psychol. 10 (2009); Lorraine Mazerolle, Sarah Bennett, Jacqueline Davis, Elise Sargeant & Matthew Manning, Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy: A Systematic Review of the Research Evidence, 9 J. Exp. Criminol. 245 (2013), available at http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/779/art%253A10.1007%252Fs11292-013-9175-2.pdf?auth66=1423890673_bf56702bb369af746272ebb048848b96&ext=.pdf; Michael D. Reisig, Justice Tankebe & Gorazd Mesko, Compliance with the Law in Slovenia: The Role of Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy, 20 Eur. J. Crim. Pol’y Res. 259 (2014), available at http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/780/art%253A10.1007%252Fs10610-013-9211-9.pdf?auth66=1423890619_cf1f337de4b572a6cf388d948aed6165&ext=.pdf ; Michael D. Reisig & Camille Lloyd, Procedural Justice, Police Legitimacy, and Helping the Police Fight Crime: Results From a Survey of Jamaican Adolescents, 12 Police Q. 42 (2009), available at http://pqx.sagepub.com/content/12/1/42.full.pdf+html; Jackson, Bradford, Stanko & Hohl supra note 8; Tyler & Fagan, supra note 8.

[14] Sunshine & Tyler, supra note 8; Tyler & Fagan, supra note 8; Tyler & Jackson, supra note 7.

[15] Tyler & Huo, supra note 12.

[16] Katrin Hohl, Betsy Stanko & Tim Newburn, The Effect of the 2011 London Disorder on Public Opinion of the Police and Attitudes Towards Crime, Disorder, and Sentencing, 7 Policing: J. Pol’y & Prac. 12 (2013), available at http://policing.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/11/30/police.pas055.full.pdf+html; Jonathan Jackson, Aziz Z. Huq, Ben Bradford & Tom R. Tyler, Monopolizing Force? Police Legitimacy and Public Attitudes Toward the Acceptability of Violence, 19 Psychol. Pub. Pol’y & L. 479 (2013), available at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/50262/1/Jackson_Monopolizing_force_2013.pdf.

 

[17] Tom R. Tyler & Cheryl J. Wakslak, Profiling and Police Legitimacy: Procedural Justice, Attributions of Motive, and Acceptance of Social Authority, 42 Criminology 253 (2004), available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2004.tb00520.x/asset/j.1745-9125.2004.tb00520.x.pdf?v=1&t=i64jczth&s=e07f33c5d2c11cee24467134dab9d2ab1809cf11.

[18] Charles R. Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody & Donald P. Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (2014); Jack Glaser, Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling (2014); Tyler, Fagan & Geller, supra note 8.

[19] Tyler & Fagan, 2008; Tyler, Fagan & Geller, 2014.

[20] Issa Kohler-Hausmann, Misdemeanor Justice: Control Without Conviction, 119 Am. J. Soc. 351 (2013), available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/674743.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true.

[21] Amanda Geller, Jeffrey Fagan, Tom R. Tyler & Bruce G. Link, Aggressive Policing and the Mental Health of Young Urban Men, 104 Am. J. Pub. Health 2321 (2014), available at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302046. Also see William J. Stuntz Terry and substantive law.  72 St. John’s Law Review, 1362.

[22] Robert Brame, Michael G. Turner, Raymond Paternoster & Shawn D. Bushway, Cumulative Prevalence of Arrest from Ages 8 to 23 in a National Sample, 129 Pediatrics 21 (2012), available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/1/21.full.pdf.

[23] Laurence Steinberg, Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence (2014).

[24] Robert J. Sampson & John H. Laub, Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life (1993); Elizabeth S. Scott & Laurence Steinberg, Rethinking Juvenile Justice (2010).

[25] Anthony Petrosino, Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino & Sarah Guckenburg, Formal System Processing of Juveniles: Effects on Delinquency, Campbell Systematic Rev. (2010), available at http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/lib/project/81.

[26] It is important to distinguish particular experiences from long-term patterns of interaction.  When young people initially deal with the police, they react to whether they feel fairly treated and whether such treatment can either build or undermine existing legitimacy.  If over time young people experience repeated interactions with the police, especially under circumstances where the reasons for and legality of police actions are unclear, they become less trusting of the police, and are more likely to infer that subsequent interactions are unlawful and unfair irrespective of the actions the particular officers are taking in those particular encounters.

[27] George L. Kelling & James Q. Wilson, Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety, The Atlantic (Mar. 1, 1982), available at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465.

[28] Andrew Papachristos, Anthony Braga, David Hureau, Social Networks And The Risk Of Gunshot Injury, 89(6) J. of Urb. Health 992-1003 (2012).

[29] Braga, A. & Weisburd, D.L. (2010).  Policing problem places: Crime hot spots and effective prevention.  Oxford.

[30]  See Andrew V. Papachristos et. al., Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago, 4(2) J. of Empirical L. Stud. 223-72 (2007);  Andrew V. Papachristos et. al., Why Do Criminals Obey the Law? The Influence of Legitimacy and Social Networks on Active Gun Offenders, 102 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 397-440 (2012).

[31] One concern the police have that is easy to address is that it is costless for greater public recognition of their success in doing a difficult and often thankless job.

[32] Police officers, for example, are more likely to die through suicide than via like of duty deaths.

[33] I. Komarovskaya et al.,The Impact Of Killing And Injuring Others On Mental Health Symptoms Among Police Officers, 45(10) J. of Psychiatric Res. 1332-36 (2011); Rachel M. MacNair, Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress In Combat Veterans, 8(1) Peace & Conflict: J. of Peace Psychol. 63-71 (2002); H. Robinson, M. Sigman & J. Wilson, Duty-Related Stressors And PTSD Symptoms In Suburban Police Officers 81 Psychol. Rep. 835-45 (1997). Liberman, Akiva M., et al, (2002).  Routine occupational stress and psychological distress in policing.  Policing, 25(2), 421-442. Marmar, Charles R., et al, (2006).  Predictors of posttraumatic stress in police and other first responders.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071(1), 1-18.

[34] T.R. Tyler et al., Armed, And Dangerous(?):  Can Self-Regulatory Approaches Shape Rule Adherence Among Agents Of Social Control, 41(2) L. & Soc’y.  Rev. 247-92 (2007); Akiva Liberman; Suzanne Best; Thomas Metzler; Jeffrey Fagan, Daniel Weiss; and Charles Marmar (2002). Routine occupational stress and psychological distress in police.  Policing, 25(2), 421-441.

[35] B. Bradford et al., Why Do ‘The Law’ Comply?  Procedural Justice, Group Identification And Officer Motivations In Police Organizations, 11 European J. of Criminology 110-31 (2014); R. Trinkner & T. Tyler, Justice From Within:  How Procedural Justice In Police Culture Shapes The Institution, The Officer, And The Community. (2015) Unpublished manuscript.

[36] Id.; S. Wolfe & A Piquero, Organizational Justice And Police Misconduct, 38 Crim. Just. & Behav. 332-53 (2011).

[37] J. Robbins et al., Perceived unfairness and employee health: A meta-analytic integration. 97 J. of Applied Psychol. 235-72 (2012).

[38] K. Belvedere et al., Explaining Suspect Resistance In Police-Citizen Encounters.  30(1) Crim. Just. Rev. 30-44 (2005); J. McCluskey, Police Requests For Compliance: Coercive And Procedurally Just Tactics. NY: LFB Scholarly Publishing (2003).

[39] New Haven, for example, has new officers that work within neighborhoods for their first year on the job.  See E. Lips & J. Swift.  Homicides, Violent Crimes In New Haven Down In 2014,  New Haven Register. (2015).

Responses

  1. Robert Fuchs says:

    November 16th, 2015at 2:15 pm(#)

    “Given the currently low crime rates and resulting public feelings of greater safety, this is an ideal time to address the issue of police legitimacy and to make building trust.” I completely agree. Although there are legitimate disagreements about many of these issues, a time like this is a great opportunity for a reexamination of policing. That being said, it would also be very interesting to read about what various communities can do internally to enhance the relationship between citizens and police.

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