Skip to main content


Log in

Training police for procedural justice

  • Published:
Journal of Experimental Criminology Aims and scope Submit manuscript



This paper reports the findings of an evaluation of a police training program on the principles of procedural justice. This training was part of a larger organizational change strategy aimed at improving the relationship between the police and the public in Chicago.


The paper reports on the findings of two studies. The short-term effects study was a quasi-experimental test of the immediate effectiveness of the training conducted at the police academy. A longer-term effects study examined the subsequent views of trainees and a comparison group, officers who had not yet been to training. Statistical controls were used to increase confidence in the findings of the second study, which was based on observational data.


In the short term, training increased officer support for all of the procedural justice dimensions included in the experiment. Post-training, officers were more likely to endorse the importance of giving citizens a voice, granting them dignity and respect, demonstrating neutrality, and (with the least enthusiasm) trusting them to do the right thing. All of the effects of training were strong, with standardized effect sizes ranging from 1.2 to 1.6. Longer-term, officers who had attended the procedural justice workshop continued to be more supportive of three of the four procedural justice principles introduced in training; the effect of training on trust was not statistically significant.


There has been little systematic research on police training. This paper concludes that it can play a role in improving police–community relations. It also presents a discussion of some of the limitations of a training-based organizational change strategy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Bradford, B. (2011). Voice, neutrality and respect: use of victim support services, procedural fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 11, 345–366.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Garner, J., Fagan, J., & Maxwell, C. D. (1995). Published findings from the NIJ spouse assault replication program: a critical review. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 8, 1–29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haarr, R. N. (2001). The making of a community policing officer: the impact of basic training and occupational socialization on police recruits. Police Quarterly, 4, 402–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hinds, L., & Murphy, K. (2007). Public satisfaction with police: using procedural justice to improve police legitimacy. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 40, 27–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Stanko, B., & Hohl, K. (2013). Just authority: Trust in the police in England and Wales. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lipsey, M. W. (1990). Design sensitivity: Statistical power for experimental research. Newbury Park: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mastrofski, S. D., & Richard Ritti, R. (1996). Police training and the effects of organization on drunk driving enforcement. Justice Quarterly, 13, 291–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Davis, J., Sargeant, E., & Manning, M. (2013a). Procedural justice and police legitimacy: a systematic review of the research evidence. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9, 245–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mazerolle, L., Antrobus, E., Bennett, S., & Tyler, T. R. (2013b). Shaping citizen perceptions of police legitimacy: a randomized field trial of procedural justice. Criminology, 51, 33–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy, K., Hinds, L., & Fleming, J. (2008). Encouraging public cooperation and support for police. Policing & Society, 18, 136–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenbaum, D. P. (1987). Coping with victimization: the effects of police intervention on victims’ psychological readjustment. Crime & Delinquency, 33, 502–519.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skogan, W. G., & Frydl, K. (2004). Fairness and effectiveness in policing: The evidence. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tyler, T. R., & Jackson, J. (2013). Future challenges in the study of legitimacy and criminal justice. In J. Tankebe & A. Liebling (Eds.), Legitimacy and criminal justice: An international exploration (pp. 83–102). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Tyler, T. R., Callahan, P. E., & Frost, J. (2007). Armed, and dangerous (?): motivating rule adherence among agents of social control. Law & Society Review, 41, 457–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wheller, L., & Morris, J. (2010). Evidence reviews: What works in training, behaviour change and implementing guidance. London: National Police Improvement Agency.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wheller, L., Quinton, P., Fildes, A., & Mills, A. (2013). The greater Manchester police procedural justice training experiment: Technical report. London: The College of Policing.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Joyce Foundation. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of Northwestern University or the supporting foundations. Many thanks for the support of the staff of the Chicago Police Education and Training Academy, especially Lt. Bruce Lipman and Sgt. Mark Sedevic. Readers wishing to review the training materials described here should directly contact the Commander of the Chicago Police Training Division, 1300 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607, telephone +1.312.746.8310.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wesley G. Skogan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Skogan, W.G., Van Craen, M. & Hennessy, C. Training police for procedural justice. J Exp Criminol 11, 319–334 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: