Southern Police Institute
63rd Annual Training Conference

Mark Your Calendar!

2014 SPIAA Annual Training Conference
July 21-24, 2014 Tampa, Florida
Embassy Suites-Downtown
Convention Center

Training Topic:  Enhancing Legitimacy: Procedural Justice and Crime Control in the 21st Century

Training Agenda


Enhancing Legitimacy:  Procedural Justice and Crime Control in the 21st Century

July 21-24. Tampa, FL

Our training 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! 

Recently the 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). 

Procedural 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.





                  Webmaster, Carol Paterick.