Arlington, TX: A Community Policing Story Arlington, TX - A Community Policing Story - Page 13
Supporting Peel’s second principle, decades of academic research have established that public
trust contributes to greater public deference when the police have personal interactions
with members of the community, 12 increased compliance with the law, 13 higher levels of
cooperation with police efforts to manage crime, 14 and stronger institutional support for police
departments. 15 Perhaps more importantly, academic research has also underscored the critical
disadvantages of public mistrust. For example, recent studies suggest that “high-profile cases of
police violence—disproportionately experienced by Black men—may present a serious threat
to public safety if they lower citizen crime reporting” and thus undermine the ability of law
enforcement to fulfill public safety objectives; for example, after Milwaukee officers severely
beat Frank Jude, an unarmed Black man, the police department received approximately 22,000
fewer calls for service, particularly from Black residents, over the next year. 16
On the other hand, an organizational commitment to building public trust, particularly among
marginalized communities, is essential to achieving public safety objectives. Indeed, the Task
Force on 21st Century Policing—which comprised law enforcement executives, criminal
justice practitioners, academic researchers, and community advocates—identified its first
pillar, building trust and legitimacy, as “the foundational principle underlying [the task force’s]
inquiry into the nature of relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.” 17
Following the Arlington Police Department’s selection as one of 15 law enforcement agencies
identified as an “exemplary implementation model” for the task force, Chief Johnson similarly
emphasized trust building as an urgent, albeit long-term, objective within the profession:
Trust is not built during a crisis; it is not built quickly, and no matter how much trust you
build, it can erode over time. Building public trust requires constant devotion, a focus
on relationships, and a demonstrated commitment to achieve community goals through
personal and organizational actions. 18
In establishing public trust as a formal metric of success, law enforcement agencies should
invest not only in community-based policies, practices, and programs but also in an agency-
wide framework that supports and ultimately sustains trust building as a priority.
12. Tom R. Tyler and Yuen J. Huo, Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts
(NY: Russell-Sage Foundation, 2002).
13. Tom R. Tyler, “Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and Compliance,” in Why People Obey the Law (Princeton
University Press, 2006).
14. Tom R. Tyler and Jeffrey Fagan, “Why Do People Cooperate with the Police?” Ohio State Journal of Criminal
Law 6 (2008): 231–275, http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/osjcl/Articles/Volume6_1/Tyler-Fagan-PDF.pdf.
15. Jason Sunshine and Tom R. Tyler, “The Role of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy in Shaping Public Support for
Policing,” Law and Society Review 37, no. 3 (2003): 513–548, https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-5893.3703002.
16. Matthew Desmond, Andrew V. Papachristos, and David S. Kirk, “Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting
in the Black Community,” American Sociological Review 81, no. 5 (2016): 857-876, https://doi.org/
17. President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century
Policing (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2015), 9, https://ric-zai-inc.com/
18. Arlington Police Department, “Arlington Police Chosen to Lead Efforts” (see note 4).
Getting Started: Key Concepts and Definitions