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The effectiveness of the police depends on the engagement and collaboration between people and the police service. Various authors have developed theories in an attempt to assess how effective the police officers engage with citizens to reduce crime. Police legitimacy has also been assessed through survey questions in a community project. There are numerous theories employed by the authors while developing literature regarding police legitimacy with some of them conflicting with one another.
Bennet et al. (2017), in their article, sought to establish the effectiveness of Mobile Police Community office (MPCO) in the reduction of crime and how police legitimacy is enhanced in crime hot spots in Australia. The research by Ariel et al. (2016) asserts that civilian police significantly reduce crime and MPCO is efficient in increasing police legitimacy. The spiral of silence theory explains police legitimacy. In the formation of public opinion and transformation of the same, the media has three major roles. First, it sets the agenda by bringing out issues and bestowing legitimacy over the same. Second, media's tenor influences perceptions of individuals by taking a dominant position in portraying a situation. Third, the media plays an articulation function by providing expressions and words for the public to defend and persuade their positions (Yun et al. 2016, pg. 237). Hostile media might propagate an issue through coverage in a manner that antagonizes the police and the people (Yun et al. 2016, pg. 238).
Research indicates that procedural justice plays a key role in determining the effectiveness of police legitimacy (Worden et al. 2018, pg. 150). From the study by Worden et al. (2018), the subjective experience of people's interaction with the police determined police legitimacy and whether the police deserved respect which determines needs satisfaction. Procedural justice also needs to be adopted in police interactions/management. Research by Reichert et al. (2017, pg. 2), established that procedural justice is the way to the improvement of community's perception of police fairness. Procedural justice has four vital components namely transparency, voice, impartiality and fairness which defines personal interactions between law enforcement and community thus determine people perception (Reichert et al. 2017, pg. 4).
Terpstra et al. (2011, pg. 8) two contrasting perspectives of police legitimacy namely Weberian theory and Durkheimian theory where Weber supports normative legitimacy with law enforcement regarded as authoritarian role using force. Durkheim, on the other hand, supports social legitimacy that emphasizes morality and common values sharing between law enforcement and the community (Terpstra et al. 2011, pg. 9).
Third party legitimacy plays a crucial role in effective policing because of the values and opinions of other people regarding actions of the police (Nix et al. 2017, pg. 27). The Ferguson's effect theory where media provided extensively unfavourable coverage of a scenario where an unarmed black teen was shot. Such unfavourable coverage by media may escalate crime rate within the police and therefore police believe media shapes trust and attitude of people towards the police (Nix et al. 2017, pg. 27).
Tyler (2014, pg. 10) explains procedural justice and legitimacy which established that people tend to be obedient and accept the police when the law enforcers show fairness and justice when executing their authority. Procedural justice is when citizens tell their stories with confidence that decisions and justice will be served based on facts (Tyler 2014, pg. 33). The study by McQueen et al. (2015) sought to explain procedural justice where the public themselves report police activities. During the study, authors sought to determine public trust in police and how procedural justice was applied in traffic stops (McQueen et al. 2015, pg. 426).
Bennett, S., Newman, M., & Sydes, M. (2017). Mobile police community office: A vehicle for reducing crime, crime harm and enhancing police legitimacy? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 13, 417-428. DOI: 10.1007/s11292-017-9302-6
McQueen, S., & Bradford, B. (2015). Enhancing public trust and police legitimacy during road traffic encounters: Results from a randomized controlled trial in Scotland. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11, 419-443. DOI: 10.1007/s11292.015-9240-0
Nix, J., & Pickett, J. T. (2017). Third-person perceptions, hostile media effects, and policing: Developing a theoretical framework for assessing the Ferguson effect. Journal of Criminal Justice, 51, 24-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.05.016.
Peterson, E., Reichert, J., Konefal, K., & Holihen, K. (2017). Procedural Justice in Policing: How the Process of Justice Impacts Public Attitudes and Law Enforcement Outcomes. Center for Justice Research and Evaluation, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
Terpstra, J. (2011). Two theories on the police – The relevance of Max Weber and Emile Durkheim to the study of police. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 29, 1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijlcj.2011.01.009
Tyler, T. (2014). Legitimacy and Procedural Justice: A New Element of Police Leadership. Washington, D. C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, Police Executive Research Forum.
Worden, R. E., & McLean, S. J. (2018). Measuring, managing, and enhancing procedural justice in policing: Promise and pitfalls. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 29(2), 149-171. DOI: 10.1177//0887403416662505
Yun, G. W., Park, S-Y., & Lee, S. (2016). Inside the spiral: Hostile media, minority perception, and willingness to speak out on a weblog. Computers in Human Behavior 62, 236-243. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.086
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