Arlington, TX: A Community Policing Story Arlington, TX - A Community Policing Story - Page 15
The paradigmatic shift from enforcement-based to legitimacy-based policing represents a
fundamental re-imagination of the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the
communities they are sworn to serve, as this shift encourages officers to transition from a
warrior to a guardian mentality during interactions with members of the public, securing
voluntary—as opposed to involuntary—forms of public compliance, including deference to
police decisions, assistance in police investigations, and participation in crime reporting. 25
Therefore, law enforcement agencies “gain leverage for the co-production of security by
inculcating the popular perception that their actions and decisions are legitimate,” ultimately
prioritizing the cultivation of collaborative, rather than adversarial, relationships with the
public. 26 This approach, particularly in the context of community-oriented policing, supports
efforts to build relationships not only with individuals but also with community organizations,
government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders to improve problem-solving around
public safety issues.
Procedural justice’s role in building public trust
According to the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, procedural
justice “focuses the way police and other legal authorities interact with the public, and how the
characteristics of those interactions shape the public’s view of the police, their willingness to
obey the law, and actual crime rates.” 27
In other words, “the most common pathway the police use to increase citizen perceptions
of legitimacy is through the use of procedural justice.” 28 Psychologists, sociologists, and
criminologists have analyzed procedural justice—specifically in the context of police-citizen
interactions—across four central dimensions: citizen voice and representation in the process,
transparency and openness of the process, impartiality and unbiased decision-making, and
fairness and consistency of rule application. 29 Regarding the last dimension, academic
The most common pathway the police use to increase citizen
perceptions of legitimacy is through the use of procedural justice.
25. Tyler and Fagan, “Legitimacy and Cooperation” (see note 20).
26. Tyler and Fagan, “Legitimacy and Cooperation,” 235 (see note 20).
27. “Procedural Justice,” Resources, National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, accessed January 8,
28. Lorraine Mazerolle, et al., Legitimacy in Policing, no. 10 of Crime Prevention Research Review (Washington, DC:
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2013), 4, https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p262-pub.pdf.
29. Laura Kunard and Charlene Moe, Procedural Justice for Law Enforcement: An Overview (Washington, DC: Office
of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2015), https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p333-pub.pdf.
Getting Started: Key Concepts and Definitions