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Legitimacy and Procedural Justice: A New Element of Police Leadership

NCJ Number
Tom Tyler, Ph.D.
Craig Fischer
Date Published
March 2014
37 pages
This paper discusses the concepts of legitimacy and procedural justice in the context of police leadership.
This paper presents an argument that the concepts of legitimacy and procedural justice are essential elements of leadership in policing. It traces the development of the concepts of legitimacy and procedural justice from their roots, and examines why people do (or do not) obey the law and respect institutions of authority. Following are the major points discussed in this paper: recognizing the importance of community trust; legitimacy defined; procedural justice defined; the dependence on legitimacy for the success of policing; increasing legitimacy as an element of leadership in policing; the importance of "Internal" legitimacy and procedural justice; legitimacy and procedural justice as a criterion by which every police department is judged every day; legitimacy as a concept that police executives should integrate into their thinking about everything that a police department does; and how police can build legitimacy, sometimes without changing their basic approach to managing issues.