Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Measuring procedural justice and legitimacy at the local level: the police–community interaction survey

Abstract

Objectives

To introduce and evaluate the Police–Citizen Interaction (PCI) Survey, the electronic survey component of the National Police Research Platform, designed to measure the quality of police–citizen encounters at the local level.

Methods

Three studies tested the feasibility, validity, and sample representativeness of the PCI Survey. A randomized control trial (RCT) compared the PCI Survey results with the most widely used survey method, the telephone survey. The primary measures were the community member’s satisfaction with the contact, judgments of procedural justice during the interaction, police effectiveness, and police legitimacy.

Results

The RCT revealed no significant differences between the PCI Survey and the standard telephone survey, thus increasing confidence in the validity of the PCI methodology. The PCI Survey was able to replicate “known group” findings from prior research; capture agency-level differences in public satisfaction; uncover complex interactions of race, type of incident and procedural justice; and show the relative importance of both process and outcome during police-initiated contacts.

Conclusions

The PCI Survey approach, utilizing web and voice interactive methods, shows considerable promise as a tool for measuring organizational performance in new ways, focusing on procedural fairness and the quality of police services rather than the reliance on crime statistics. The survey appears to have utility for local jurisdictions, while at the same time providing standard metrics for cross-jurisdictional theory testing and benchmarking. The survey was tested initially with three agencies of different sizes. It will be refined for implementation on a larger scale.

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

Fig. 1

References

  1. Ahrens, C. E. (2006). Being silenced: the impact of negative social reactions on the disclosure of rape. American Journal of Psychology, 38, 263–274.

  2. Allison, P. D. (1999). Multiple regression: a primer. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.

  3. Alpert, G. P., & Fridell, L. A. (1992). Police vehicles and firearms: instruments of deadly force. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.

  4. Alpert, G. P., & Moore, M. H. (1993). Measuring police performance in the new paradigm of policing. In G. P. Alpert & A. R. Piquero (Eds.), Community policing: contemporary readings (pp. 215–232). Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, Inc.

  5. Bayley, D., & Mendelsohn, H. (1968). Minorities and the police: confrontation in America. New York: Free Press.

  6. Beetham, D. (1991). The legitimation of power. London: Macmillan.

  7. Bennett, S., Denning, R., Mazerolle, L., & Stocks, B. (2009). Procedural justice: a systematic literature search and technical report to the national policing improvement agency. Brisbane: ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security.

  8. Bottoms, A., & Tankebe, J. (2012). Beyond procedural justice: a dialogic approach to legitimacy in criminal justice. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 102, 119–170.

  9. Bratton, W. J., & Knobler, P. (1998). Turnaround: how America’s top cop reversed the crime epidemic. New York: Random House.

  10. Brown, B., & Benedict, R. (2002). Perceptions of the police: past findings, methodological issues, conceptual issues and policy implications. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 25, 543–580.

  11. Chan. (2001). The technological game: how information technology is transforming police practice. Criminal Justice, 1, 139–159.

  12. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159.

  13. Cook, C., Heath, F., & Thompson, R. L. (2000). A meta-analysis of response rates in web- or Internet-based surveys. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 821–826.

  14. Dai, M., Frank, J., & Sun, I. (2011). Procedural justice during police–citizen encounters: the effects of process-based policing on citizen compliance and demeanor. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39, 159–168.

  15. Decker, S. H. (1981). Citizen attitudes toward the police: a review of past findings and suggestions for future policy. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 9, 80–87.

  16. Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2009). Internet, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: the tailored design method. Hoboken: Wiley.

  17. Dowling, J., & Pferrer, J. (1975). Organizational legitimacy: social values and organizational behavior. Pacific Sociological Review, 18, 122–136.

  18. Dunworth, T. (2000). Criminal justice and the IT revolution. In Horney, J., D. Mackenzie, J. Martin, R. Peterson, and D. P. Rosenbaum (Eds.). Criminal Justice 2000: policies, processes and decisions of the criminal justice system, (Vol. 3, pp. 371–426). Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.

  19. Durose, M. R., Smith, E. L., & Langan, P. A. (2007). Contacts between police and the public, 2005. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. April, NCJ 215243.

  20. Ekblom, P., & Heal, K. (1982). The police response to calls from the public. Research and planning unit paper No. 9. London: HMSO.

  21. Engel, R. S. (2005). Citizens’ perceptions of distributive and procedural injustice during traffic stops with police. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42, 445–481.

  22. Fornell, C., Rust, R. T., & Dekimpe, M. G. (2010). The effect of customer satisfaction on consumer spending growth. Journal of Marketing Research, 47, 28–35.

  23. Fridell, L. A., & Wycoff, M. A. (Eds.). (2004). Community policing: the past, present and future. Washington: Police Executive Research Forum.

  24. Gallagher, C., Maguire, E. R., Mastrofski, S. D., & Reisig, M. D. (2001). The public image of the police. Manassas, VA: The Administration of Justice Program, George Mason University. (Final report to the International Association of Chiefs of Police)

  25. Gau, J., & Brunson, R. (2010). Procedural justice and order maintenance policing: a study of inner-city young men’s perceptions of police legitimacy. Justice Quarterly, 27, 255–279.

  26. Greene, J. R., & Mastrofski, S. (Eds.). (1988). Community policing, rhetoric or reality? New York: Prager.

  27. Hawdon, J. (2008). Legitimacy, trust, social capital, and policing styles: a theoretical statement. Police Quarterly, 11, 182–201.

  28. Hinds, L. (2007). Public satisfaction with police: the influence of general attitudes and police–citizen encounters. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 11, 54–66.

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

  30. Hough, M., FitzGerald, M., Joseph, I., & Qureshi, T. (2002). Policing for London. London: Willan.

  31. Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Stanko, E. A., & Hohl, K. (2012a). Just authority? trust in the police in England and Wales. Oxon: Routledge.

  32. Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hough, M., Myhill, A., Quinton, P., & Tyler, T. R. (2012b). Why do people comply with the law? Legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions. British Journal of Criminology, 52, 1051–1071.

  33. Kane, R. J. (2005). Compromised police legitimacy as a predictor of violence crime in structurally disadvantaged communities. Criminology, 43, 469–498.

  34. Kutner, M. H., Nachtsheim, C., & Neter, J. (2004). Applied linear regression models. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

  35. Langton, L., & Durose, M. (2013). Police behavior during traffic and stops. (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, September. NCJ 242937)

  36. Langworthy, R. H. (Ed.). (1999). Measuring what matters: proceedings from the policing research institute meetings. NIJ research report. NCJ 170610 (pp. 215–224). Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

  37. Lavrakas, P. J., Shuttles, C.W., Steeh, C. and Fienberg, H. (2007). The State of Surveying Cell Phone Numbers in the United States: 2007 and Beyond. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71, 840–854.

  38. Lervik-Olson, L., & Johnson, M. D. (2003). Service equity, satisfaction and loyalty: from transaction-specific to cumulative evaluations. Journal of Service Research, 5, 184–195.

  39. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). Social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press.

  40. Masterson, M. F., & Stevens, D. J. (2002). The value of measuring community policing performance in Madison, Wisconsin. In D. J. Stevens (Ed.), Policing and community partnerships (pp. 202–217). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

  41. Mastrofski, S. D. (1999). Policing for the people. Ideas in American policing. (Washington, DC: Police Foundation, March issue)

  42. Mastrofski, S. D. (2006). Community policing: a skeptical view. In D. Weisburd & A. Braga (Eds.), Prospects and problems in an era of police innovation: contrasting perspectives (pp. 44–73). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  43. Mastrofski, S. D., Snipes, J. D., & Supina, A. E. (1996). Compliance on demand: the public’s response to specific police requests. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 33, 269–305.

  44. Mastrofski, S. D., Reisig, M. D., & McCluskey, J. D. (2002). Police disrespect toward the public: an encounter-based analysis. Criminology, 40, 519–551.

  45. Mayhew, P., Elliott, D., & Dowds, L. (1989). The 1988 British crime survey. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

  46. Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Manning, M., Ferguson, P. & Sargeant, E. (2012a). Legitimacy in policing: A systematic review of procedural justice. Campbell Crime and Justice Group. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security 

  47. Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Antrobus, E., & Eggins, E. (2012b). Procedural justice, routine encounters and citizen perceptions of police: main findings from the Queensland Community Engagement Trial (QCET). Journal of Experimental Criminology, 8, 343–367.

  48. McCluskey, J. D., Mastrofski, S., & Parks, R. B. (1999). To acquiesce or rebel: predicting citizen compliance with police requests. Police Quarterly, 2, 389–416.

  49. Mirzer, M. L. (1996). Policing supervision in the 21st century. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 65, 6–10.

  50. Moore, M. H., & Poethig, M. (1999). The police as an agency of municipal government: implications for measuring police effectiveness. In R. H. Langworthy (Ed.), Measuring what matters: proceedings from the policing research institute meetings (pp. 151–168). Washington: National Institute of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

  51. Moore, M. H., Thacher, D., Dodge, A., & Moore, T. (2002). Recognizing value in policing: the challenge of measuring police performance. Washington, DC: police executive research forum. In N. Morris (Ed.), Crime and justice (Vol. 12, pp. 375–437). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  52. Murphy, K., & Barkworth, J. (2014). Victim willingness to report crime to police: does procedural justice or outcome matter most? Victims & Offenders: An International Journal of Evidence-based Research, Policy, and Practice, 9, 178–204.

  53. Murphy, K., & Cherney, A. (2012). Fostering cooperation with the police: How do ethnic minorities in Australia respond to procedural justice-based policing? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 44, 235–257.

  54. Murphy, K., Mazerolle, L., & Bennett, S. (2014). Promoting trust in police: findings from a randomized experimental field trial of procedural justice policing. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 24, 405–424.

  55. Myhill, A., & Quinton, P. (2011). It’s a fair cop? police legitimacy, public cooperation and crime reduction: an interpretative commentary. London: National Policing Improvement Agency.

  56. Paternoster, R., Brame, B., Mazerolle, P., & Piquero, A. R. (1998). Using the correct statistical test for the equality of regression coefficients. Criminology, 36, 859–866.

  57. Posick, C., & Policastro, C. (2013). Victim injury, emotional distress, and satisfaction with the police: evidence for a victim-centered, emotionally-based police response. Journal of the Institute of Justice & International Studies, 13, 185–196.

  58. Quinton, P., Bland, N., & Miller, J. (2000). Police stops: decision-making and practice. Police research series, paper No. 130. London: Home Office.

  59. Reisig, M. D., & Parks, R. B. (2000). Experience, quality of life, and neighbourhood context: a hierarchical analysis of satisfaction with the police. Justice Quarterly, 17, 607–630.

  60. Reiss, A. J., Jr. (1971). The police and the public. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  61. Rocque, M. (2011). Racial disparities in the criminal justice system and perceptions of legitimacy: a theoretical linkage. Race and Justice, 1, 292–315.

  62. Rosenbaum, D. P. (Ed.). (1994). The challenge of community policing: testing the promises. Newbury Park: Sage.

  63. Rosenbaum, D. P. (2004). Community policing and web-based communication: Addressing the new information imperative. In L. Fridell & M. A. Wycoff (Eds.), Community policing: the past, present and future. Washington: Police Executive Research Forum.

  64. Rosenbaum, D. P. (2007). Police innovation post 1980: assessing effectiveness and equity concerns in the information technology era. Institute for the Prevention of Crime Review, 1, 11–44.

  65. Rosenbaum, D., Schuck, A., Costello, S., Hawkins, D., & Ring, M. (2005). Attitudes toward the police: the effects of direct and vicarious experience. Police Quarterly, 83, 343–365.

  66. Rosenbaum, D. P., Schuck, A. M., Graziano, L. M., & Stephens, C. D. (2007). Measuring police and community performance using web-based surveys: Findings from the Chicago Internet Project. Final report to the National Institute of Justice. (Chicago, IL: Center for Research in Law and Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago)

  67. Sargeant, E., Murphy, K., & Cherney, A. (2014). Ethnicity, trust and cooperation with police: testing the dominance of the process-based model. European Journal of Criminology, 11, 500–524.

  68. Schafer, J. A. (2013). Effective leadership in policing: successful traits and habits. Durham: Carolina Academic Press.

  69. Schuck, A. M., & Rosenbaum, D. P. (2005). Global and neighborhood attitudes toward the police: differentiation by race, ethnicity and type of contact. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 21, 391–418.

  70. Skogan, W. G. (1986). Methodological issues in the study of victimization. In E. A. Fattah (Ed.), From crime policy to victim policy (pp. 80–116). London: Macmillan.

  71. Skogan, W. (1989). The impact of police on victims. In E. Viano (Ed.), Crime and its victims (pp. 71–78). Washington: Hemisphere.

  72. Skogan, W. G. (2004). Community policing: Can it work? United States: Wadsworth Publishing.

  73. Skogan, W. G. (2005). Citizen satisfaction with police encounters. Police Quarterly, 8, 298–321.

  74. Skogan, W. G. (2006). Asymmetry in the impact of encounters with police. Policing & Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 16, 99–126.

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

  76. Skogan, W. G., & Hartnett, S. M. (1997). Community policing, Chicago style. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.

  77. Skolnick, J. H., & Fyfe, J. J. (1993). Above the law: police and the excessive use of force. New York: The Free Press.

  78. Southgate, P., & Ekblom, P. (1984). Contacts between police and public, home office research study No. 77. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

  79. Stanko, E. A., & Bradford, B. (2009). Beyond measuring “how good a job” police are doing: the MPS model of confidence in policing. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 3, 332.

  80. Stanko, E. A., Jackson, J., Bradford, B., & Hohl, K. (2012). A golden thread, a presence amongst uniforms, and a good deal of data: studying public confidence in the London metropolitan police. Policing and Society, 22, 317–331.

  81. Starzynski, L. S., Ullman, S. E., Filipas, H. H., & Townsend, S. M. (2005). Correlates of women’s sexual assault disclosure to informal and formal support sources. Violence and Victims, 20, 417–432.

  82. Stone, C., & Travis, J. (2011). Toward a new professionalism in policing. New perspectives in policing, national institute of justice, 2-26. Harvard: Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

  83. Sunshine, J., & Tyler, T. R. (2003). The role of procedural justice for legitimacy in shaping public support for policing. Law & Society Review, 37, 513–548.

  84. Tankebe, J. (2009). Public cooperation with the police in Ghana: does procedural fairness matter? Criminology, 47, 1265–1293.

  85. Terrill, W., & Mastrofski, S. D. (2002). Situational and officer based determinants of police coercion. Justice Quarterly, 19, 215–248.

  86. Terrill, W., & Reisig, M. (2003). Neighborhood context and police use of force. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40, 291–321.

  87. Tourangeau, R., & Plewes, T. J. (2013). Nonresponse in social science surveys: a research agenda. Washington: The National Academies Press.

  88. Tuch, S. A., & Weitzer, R. (1997). Racial differences in attitudes toward the police. Public Opinion Quarterly, 61, 642–663.

  89. Tyler, T. R. (1990). Why people obey the law. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  90. Tyler, T. R. (1997). The psychology of legitimacy: a relational perspective on voluntary deference to authorities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1, 323–345.

  91. Tyler, T. R. (2001). Public trust and confidence in legal authorities: what do majority and minority group members want from the law and legal authorities? Behavioral Science and the Law, 19, 215–235.

  92. Tyler, T. R. (2003). Procedural justice, legitimacy, and the effective rule of law. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice (Vol. 30, pp. 431–505). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  93. Tyler, T. R. (2004). Enhancing police legitimacy. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 593, 84–99.

  94. Tyler, T. R. (2005). Policing in black and white: ethnic group differences in trust and confidence in the police. Police Quarterly, 8, 322–342.

  95. Tyler, T. R. (2006a). Why people obey the law. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  96. Tyler, T. R. (2006b). Psychological perspectives on legitimacy and legitimation. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 375–400.

  97. Tyler, T. R. (2011). Why people cooperate: the role of social motivations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  98. Tyler, T. R., & Fagan, J. (2008). Legitimacy and cooperation: why do people help the police fight crime in their communities? Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 6, 231–275.

  99. Tyler, T. R., & Huo, Y. J. (2002). Trust in the law: encouraging public cooperation with the police and courts. New York: Russell-Sage Foundation.

  100. Tyler, T. R., & Wakslak, C. J. (2004). Profiling and police legitimacy: procedural justice, attributions of motive, and acceptance of police authority. Criminology, 42, 253–282.

  101. Ullman, S. E. (1999). Social support and recovery from sexual assault: a review. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal, 4, 343–358.

  102. Ullman, S. E. (2000). Psychometric characteristics of the social reactions questionnaire. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 257–271.

  103. United States Census Bureau (2014). Computer and internet use trends: 1984 to 2012. Measuring America series. Current Population Survey, Selected Years. Hp://www.census.gov/cps/methodology/techdocs.html

  104. Walker, S. (2005). The new world of police accountability. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

  105. Webb, E. J., Campbell, D. T., Schwartz, R. D., & Sechrest, L. (1966). Unobtrusive measures. Chicago: Rand McNally.

  106. Weisburd, D., & Braga, A. A. (Eds.). (2006). Policing innovation: contrasting perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  107. Weisburd, D., Mastrofski, S., McNally, A. M., Greenspan, R., & Willis, J. (2003). Reforming to preserve: COMPSTAT and strategic problem solving in American policing. Criminology and Public Policy, 2, 421–456.

  108. Weitzer, R. (2000). Racialized policing: residents’ perceptions in three neighborhoods. Law and Society Review, 34, 129–155.

  109. Weitzer, R., & Tuch, S. A. (2004). Race and perceptions of police misconduct. Social Problems, 51, 305–325.

  110. Wells, L. E. (2007). Type of contact and evaluations of police officers: the effects of procedural justice across three types of police–citizen contacts. Journal of Criminal Justice, 35, 612–621.

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

  112. Zaragoza, M. S., Belli, R., & Payment, K. E. (2007). Misinformation effects and the suggestibility of eyewitness memory. In M. Garry & H. Hayne (Eds.), Do justice and Let the Sky fall: Elizabeth F. Loftus and her contributions to science, Law, and academic freedom (pp. 35–63). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by Award No. 2008-DN-BX-0005 from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice. We are especially indebted to former Boston Commissioner Edward Davis, Oak Park IL Chief Rick Tanksley, former River Forest IL Chief Frank Limon and current Chief Greg Weiss, who encouraged their employees to invest in this project and see the benefit of research for everyday policing. We also want to thank Chief Rick Tanksley and his staff at the Oak Park IL Police Department for their willingness to participate in the randomized control trial and work with us to advance the current state of knowledge about performance measurement.

Author information

Correspondence to Dennis P. Rosenbaum.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rosenbaum, D.P., Lawrence, D.S., Hartnett, S.M. et al. Measuring procedural justice and legitimacy at the local level: the police–community interaction survey. J Exp Criminol 11, 335–366 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-015-9228-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Community surveys
  • Police performance measurement
  • Police accountability
  • Police–citizen contacts
  • Procedural justice
  • Police legitimacy
  • Randomized control trial
  • Victim empathy