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Dilemmas in Procedural Justice: Reconciling Police Training and Culture with Citizen Expectations Dr. Jacinta M. Gau Associate Professor Department of.

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Presentation on theme: "Dilemmas in Procedural Justice: Reconciling Police Training and Culture with Citizen Expectations Dr. Jacinta M. Gau Associate Professor Department of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dilemmas in Procedural Justice: Reconciling Police Training and Culture with Citizen Expectations Dr. Jacinta M. Gau Associate Professor Department of Criminal Justice University of Central Florida

2 What is Legitimacy? Every authority needs to justify the power it holds over the populace Especially when that authority possesses the ability to induce compliance by physical force or violence There are different types of legitimacy Rational legitimacy is the heart of modern systems of government and bureaucracy

3 What is Legitimacy? Rational legitimacy (legitimacy) is earned when an authority acts in an honest, open manner The government or agency’s purpose is clearly identified The government or agency has a set of laws, policies, and/or procedures that govern its operations The government or agency is accountable to the public and to other governmental bodies or agencies

4 What is Legitimacy? Legitimacy is governance by consent. Members of the citizenry voluntarily submit to an authority figure when they trust that authority to use its power responsibly Placing trust in an agency or person makes the trustor vulnerable to the trustee, the latter of whom holds the power in the relationship

5 Legitimacy and Compliance Legitimacy promotes widespread, voluntary compliance An agency responsible for maintaining public order cannot constantly monitor every location and every citizen. The citizenry must self- regulate Exercise self-control Hold one another accountable Be willing to work with the authority to solve problems

6 Legitimacy and Compliance in Policing Compliance with the law and obedience to individual officers’ commands In maintaining order, police rely heavily on voluntary compliance Ordering a crowd to disperse, ordering loiterers or suspicious-looking individuals to leave the area, getting people to call the police to report problems, getting witnesses to provide information, etc. Can’t arrest everybody who disrupts public spaces or commits crime. Officers need to have multiple options– not just arrest– for maintaining order

7 Two Levels of Legitimacy The meso level: the organization/agency The micro level: the individual actors/employees The two interact The amount of legitimacy that the organization has will determine how much legitimacy its employees possess The day-to-day actions of the employees and the way they interact with members of the public affect not only their individual legitimacy, but also that of the organization

8 The Origins and Maintenance of Legitimacy The origins are in transparency and accountability, as discussed Day-to-day maintenance, however, requires organizations and actors to continuously demonstrate their judicious, prudent use of the power they hold The procedural justice model of police legitimacy proposes that respectful treatment of civilians helps police maintain legitimacy. Treating people respectfully and with dignity shows civilians that officers take their responsibility seriously, and that officers recognize that they are powerful, but also accountable

9 Procedural Justice Procedural justice enhances both individual and meso levels of legitimacy People feel more trusting of individual employees People believe that the organization is properly training and supervising its employees, making sure they remain true to the stated mission/goal of the organization

10 Procedural Justice Procedural justice can enhance police legitimacy and, thus, promote compliance and obedience Compliance and obedience are stronger when achieved through PJ than through the threat of arrest Deterrence is spotty, especially for lower-level offenses. People might think something is no big deal, or know they will probably get away with it. Can’t arrest everyone

11 The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice PJ has another side, one grounded in social psychology (the study of how people interact with their social environment) The social psychology of authority holds that an authority figure’s treatment of a subordinate conveys information about the value that the authority figure places on the subordinate Rude or dismissive treatment = “I don’t care about you.” Respectful and fair treatment = “You are important to me.”

12 The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice This is particularly relevant in policing The types of behaviors considered “inside” the law and “outside” it convey information about social values and morality When you are inside the law, you are also inside society. You are accepted and valued When you are outside the law, you are a condemned and rejected Nobody wants to be criticized or rejected. Humans have an innate need to be valued and respected by society. They want to feel like they are a part of it

13 The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice Police– as society’s sworn enforcers of social values and morals– inevitably become the ones who make judgments about who is “good” and who is “bad” in the eyes of society at-large Police officers’ actions are both instrumental and symbolic An officer’s manner of treating a civilian is not merely a reflection of that officer’s personality or mood– it is a reflection of how much society itself values that person Someone treated well feels like part of the group Someone treated poorly feels alienated, isolated

14 Procedural Justice, Compliance, and Obedience Due to its social-psychological impact, PJ might also increase compliance and obedience directly (in addition to indirectly via legitimacy) People who feel they are accepted and valued by a group are more motivated to obey the rules and authority figures within it People who feel alienated become angry and resentful. They do not care about obeying the rules or authorities of the group that rejected them

15 The Direct and Indirect Effects of PJ Procedural Justice Legitimacy Compliance and Obedience

16 What is Procedural Justice? Four components to citizens’ perceptions that PJ is present or absent during an encounter Citizen participation (voice) prior to the officer reaching a decision Perceived neutrality of the officer in her/his decision Dignity and respect Trustworthy motives

17 What is Procedural Justice? Actions officers can take to address each of the four components Voice Ask for information or input. Listen attentively. Neutrality Explain the reason why s/he got involved in the matter. Seek all viewpoints about the matter. Tell the participants that no decision will be rendered until every party has had an opportunity to talk. After making a decision, explain why s/he chose to resolve the issue as s/he did

18 What is Procedural Justice? Dignity Show respect consistently throughout the entire encounter. Even intermittent disrespect can undermine the effort. Go beyond “business-like” respect and genuinely convey regard for the civilian and her/his situation.

19 What is Procedural Justice? Trustworthiness: Showing care and concern Ask about civilian’s well-being. Offer comfort or reassurance. Exert control or influence over another person on the civilian’s behalf, or promise to do so. File a report for the citizen, or promise to do so. Act, or promise to act, on behalf of the civilian with a government agency or private organization. Provide or arrange physical assistance, or promise to do so. Officer advice to the citizen for handling the situation or problem.

20 What is Procedural Justice? Not every single element of each of the four domains must be present. Officers should adhere to the domains and specific actions within those domains to the extent possible, adapting them as needed

21 Switching Gears: Police Culture Culture = the attitudinal frameworks and behavioral strategies that police develop as a result of multiple pressures levied upon them by supervisors and others within their department (organizational environment) and by the emotional drains and physical dangers they face on the street (occupational or street environment) Culture is passed down from one “generation” of officers to the next Informal socialization, FTOs, and other interactions that new officers have with older ones

22 Elements of Police Culture Occupational environment (civilians) Suspiciousness Constant threat of potential danger; never let your guard down Maintaining the edge Constantly display coercive power/command presence; control the situation

23 Elements of Police Culture Organizational environment (supervisors) Lay low/CYA Stay out of things; more exposure to situations, incidents, and civilians increases the risk of supervisor scrutiny Adopt a crime-fighter orientation Commendations, awards, and promotions are based on crime-related outputs (arrests, citations, crimes solved, response times, etc.), so these are the only worthwhile activities

24 Elements of Police Culture Officer-to-officer environment Social isolation Friendship limited to other officers; civilians don’t understand Loyalty Don’t talk to supervisors about other officers’ behavior; officers have to watch each others’ backs Code of silence

25 Procedural Justice vs. Police Culture Procedural JusticePolice Culture Citizen voice–solicit their input and listen attentivelyBe suspicious—civilians can’t be trusted, treat them all as potentially dangerous Neutrality—let all parties talk before making a decision, and explain that decision Maintain the edge–keep civilians aware of your coercive authority Dignity– treat civilians respectfullyLay low—don’t do anything that could catch supervisors’ attention Trustworthiness– show care and concern to show them that you have their best interests in mind Be a crime fighter—there are no rewards for making people feel better or delivering them satisfactory service, all that matters are crime-related outputs Stick with other cops—civilians don’t understand Code of silence—never provide incriminating statements against another officer

26 Bridging the Gap between PJ and Culture There are differences– some of them big– between the types of behaviors required by the PJ model and the attitudes and behaviors endemic to the traditional police culture But there are many reasons to think that– with commitment on the part of police-agency executives, supervisors, and trainers—the elements of PJ can become part of officers’ standard behavioral repertoire

27 Variability in Cultural Attitudes For one thing, there is substantial variability in officer attitudes Most officers subscribe to at least a few of the cultural elements Danger/suspiciousness and maintaining the edge/coercive authority seem to be fairly common Officers do place a premium on protecting their peers, though support for the code of silence is much less today than in the past

28 Variability in Cultural Attitudes But many display attitudes very typical of a community-focused approach Social isolation not uniform– many officers do like to socialize with non-police officers outside of work Many officers do not think that effective policing requires detachment from the communities they work in

29 What does it all mean? In sum, there is camaraderie among officers. They are loyal to each other, though this loyalty does not necessarily extend to the point of lying for their peers They are wary of the ever-present potential for violence, but there is no evidence to suggest that they cannot engage in PJ while continuing to be vigilant for signs that a situation is worsening There is a growing sentiment that the community can be engaged in the anti-crime effort

30 Training Tips: Making Officers aware of the Importance of PJ Many officers intuitively understand that remaining calm and being polite help keep situations from escalating What they might not be aware of is how important every face-to-face contact with a civilian is to the overall effectiveness of a police force and safety to its officers The officer who is rude or abusive to a civilian might be endangering the next officer who comes into contact with that person Academy and in-service training, as well as day-to-day conversations, should emphasize that every contact matters

31 Training Tips: Teaching the Four Elements The four elements of procedural justice– and the specific behaviors each element encompasses– can be made part of academy and in- service training These behaviors are tactics designed to accomplish an overarching strategic goal, so teaching them the tactics will give them the tools they need to accomplish that goal

32 Training Tips: Making Dialogue Key Dialogue matters more than the specific mechanics of the encounter Traffic stops, arrests, investigations, warrant execution, problem-oriented policing, conferences, school-based programs, crackdowns, and so on What matters is that police employ elements of each of the four domains in their face-to-face encounters with civilians

33 Training Tips: Making Dialogue Key Example: An Australian police department significantly improved citizen satisfaction by having officers at a roadside sobriety checkpoint read a script specifically designed to tap into each of the four elements. Neutrality: “You were not specifically singled out for this [breath] test.” Trustworthy motives: “Can you please help us by driving safely?” Citizen voice: “Do you have any other questions for me about this [checkpoint] or anything else?” Dignity/respect: “I just want to finish off by thanking you for [select a positive thing that the driver did]”

34 Performance Measures Fundamental fact: Rewards encourage certain behaviors and discourage others. An activity that is rewarded will be completed more consistently than one that is not Traditional performance measures are incompatible with modern policing Telling officers to try to prevent crimes, but only rewarding them for solving them. Telling them to try to resolve situations creatively, yet measuring numbers of arrests Need to modernize the criteria necessary for awards and promotions

35 Measuring PJ Community surveys Periodic random samples of the entire jurisdiction Surveys of randomly selected individuals who have had recent encounters with officers Less ideal: have officers provide surveys at the end of an encounter Active solicitation of community feedback through social media Encourage reporting of all types of opinions, not just negative ones Meetings with community leaders who can provide a valid assessment of the general attitude among those they speak for Homeowners’ associations presidents, church leaders active in the community, etc.

36 For further information, please feel free to contact me: Jacinta M. Gau, Ph.D. University of Central Florida Recommended Readings Jonathan-Zamir, Mastrofski, & Moyal (2013). Measuring procedural justice in police-citizen encounters. Justice Quarterly. Forthcoming. Mazerolle, Bennett, Davis, Sargeant, & Manning (2013). Legitimacy in policing: A systematic review. Oslo, Norway: The Campbell Collaboration. Paoline & Terrill (2014). Police culture: Adapting to the strains of the job. Durham, NC: North Carolina Academic Press.


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