Arlington, TX: A Community Policing Story Arlington, TX - A Community Policing Story - Page 14

Legitimacy’s role in building public trust Legitimacy, a central objective of building public trust, is defined within social science research as “a psychological property of an authority, institution, or social arrangement that leads those connected to it to believe that it is appropriate, proper, and just.” 19 However, in the context of the law enforcement profession, legitimacy can be described simply as “a feeling of obligation to obey the law and to defer to decisions made by legal authorities.” 20 Traditional crime prevention models, particularly those designed by deterrence theorists, advocates enforcement-based policing, in which public compliance is achieved by emphasizing the consequences—usually formal punishment—of incompliance. 21 Legitimacy-based policing, grounded in decades of research, emphasizes that public compliance relies upon whether individuals believe the law is just and whether they beli eve the authorities enforcing the law are entitled to do so. Perceptions of legitimacy and, by extension, illegitimacy are a powerful determinant for public behavior that the legal system as a whole requires to function, including compliance with the law, cooperation with legal authorities, and support for the empowerment of the law. 22 For example, at the most fundamental level, researchers hypothesize that negative perceptions of illegitimacy result in “declining feelings of obligation to obey the police, the courts, and the law,” 23 suggesting that “the loss of popular legitimacy for the criminal justice system produces disastrous consequences.” 24 Legitimacy-based policing . . . emphasizes that public compliance relies upon whether individuals believe the law is just and whether they believe the authorities enforcing the law are entitled to do so. 19. Tom R. Tyler, “Psychological Perspectives on Legitimacy and Legitimation,” Annual Review of Psychology 57, no. 1 (2006): 375–400, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190038. 20. Tom R. Tyler and Jeffrey Fagan, “Legitimacy and Cooperation: Why Do People Help the Police Fight Crime in Their Communities?” Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 6, no. 231 (2008): 231–275, http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/osjcl/ Articles/Volume6_1/Tyler-Fagan-PDF.pdf. 21. Kevin C. Kennedy, “A Critical Appraisal of Criminal Deterrence Theory,” Dickinson Law Review 88, no. 1 (1983-1984), https://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/facpubs/42/. 22. Tom R. Tyler, “Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and the Effective Rule of Law,” Crime and Justice 30 (2003): 283–357, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9005/35b8beeabda52e9373107ccb95be3e0769b8.pdf. 23. Tyler, “Procedural Justice, Legitimacy,” 291 (see note 22). 24. James Q. Wilson, et al., Perspectives on Crime and Justice: 1996–1997 Lecture Series (Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, 1997), 55, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/166609.pdf. 6 Arlington, TX: A Community Policing Story