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Enhancing Police Legitimacy

Tom R. Tyler
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 593, To Better Serve and Protect: Improving Police Practices (May, 2004), pp. 84-99
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4127668
Page Count: 16
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Enhancing Police Legitimacy
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Abstract

This article makes three points. First, the police need public support and cooperation to be effective in their order-maintenance role, and they particularly benefit when they have the voluntary support and cooperation of most members of the public, most of the time. Second, such voluntary support and cooperation is linked to judgments about the legitimacy of the police. A central reason people cooperate with the police is that they view them as legitimate legal authorities, entitled to be obeyed. Third, a key antecedent of public judgments about the legitimacy of the police and of policing activities involves public assessments of the manner in which the police exercise their authority. Such procedural-justice judgments are central to public evaluations of the police and influence such evaluations separately from assessments of police effectiveness in fighting crime. These findings suggest the importance of enhancing public views about the legitimacy of the police and suggest process-based strategies for achieving that objective.

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