Southern Police Institute
Enhancing Legitimacy: Procedural Justice and Crime Control in the 21st Century
July 21-24. Tampa, FL
agenda starts with an introduction to the core concepts of legitmacy
and procdural justice as well as current research on the topic. We
are also pleased to be joined by members of the Chicago Police
Deparment a national leader in legtimacy training. We hope to see
you in Tampa!
related concepts of Police Legitimacy and Procedural Justice have
gained substantial salience in American Policing. “Legitimacy is a
property of an authority or institution that leads people to feel
that that authority or institution is entitled to be deffered to to
and obayed” (Sunshine and Tyler:514). This is more than an
organizations ability to provide rewards or punishments. Legitimate
authorities should be obayed because there is a moral obligation to
show deference to them. Researches believe that if police are
viewed as legitimate, citizens are more likely to obey the law
generally. This notion sits in contrast to the tradtional
deterrence model which hypothosizes that citizens obey the law due
to fear of being caught by the police. Legitimacy may also be
related to citizens’ willingness to cooperate with the police in
general. Clearly, in both reactive and proactive systems citizens
are critical sources of information regarding crime and disorder.
In the traditional model of policing citizens mobilize police to
crime and disorder. Similarly, models like Intelligence Led
Policing (ILP) rely on information from a variety of sources
includinig the public for effective implementation. A third area of
influce thought to flow from legitimacy focuses upon citizens’
“willingness to empower the police” (Sunshine and Tyler:517).
justice is seen as a way of generating legitimacy. Specifically,
procedural justice can be seen a four distinct elements. First,
people wish to have a voice in their interactions. The ability to
“tell my side of the story” allows particpation and decions based on
all perspectives. The second element focuses upon neutrality of
decision makers. Here it is critical that decisions are made on
rule and facts rather than personal preferences or biases. In these
circumstances transparency regarding rules and the decision making
are critical. The next element of procedural justice focuses upon
how people are treated in an interaction. Specifically, are they
recieving respect (i.e. dignity and polite treatment) during their
enounter with authority. The last element focuses upon the
trustworthyness of the person with which they are dealing. The
manifestation of benevolence and a caring posture are critical to
show the good intentions and character of state actors. People who
experience these behaviors believe that the officer with whom they
are dealing is trying to do what is best for all involved in the
situation (Tyler 2014).
Police – Citzen interactions come in a wide variety of forms. An organiztion seeking to promote legitmacy would attempt to provide as many of the elements of procedural justice as possible to each encounter. Interestingly, procedural justice concepts and the resulting legitimacy also operate inside of police organizations. Police leaders seeking to enhance legitimacy should not forget their internal audience. Providing the elements of procedural justice to internal decision making and policy construction should generate greater legitimacy inside the law enforcement organization. Thus, wise police excutives understand that increasing the legitimacy of their organization to the community is only half the battle. Moreover, a singular focus on the community may lead to a back lash from the members of the policing entity.
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