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Procedural Justice During Police-Citizen Encounters: The Effects of Process-Based Policing on Citizen Compliance and Demeanor

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2011 Pages: 159-168
Mengyan Dai; James Frank; Ivan Sun
Date Published
April 2011
10 pages
This study examines whether procedurally fair behavior by police in police-citizen encounters influences whether or not citizens show disrespect toward the police and noncompliance with police requests.
The findings show that only two types of procedurally fair behavior by the police are significant in promoting citizens' cooperative behavior during interactions. First, during interactions with the police, citizen disrespectful behavior can be provoked by police demeanor. An officer attitude of hostility, an angry tone, or unnecessary remarks by the officer could be viewed by the citizen as verbal or emotional assaults on his/her worth or self-esteem. A police negative demeanor toward citizens may stem from the coercive police subculture of control and an effort to instill submissiveness and shame in those who may have broken the law. Second, study findings show the importance of listening and responding to citizen questions and concerns about the circumstances of the encounter. Citizen requests of the police should be granted when possible or reasons why a request cannot be granted should be explained. Respectful policing that involves citizen participation in police decisionmaking is an effective strategy for promoting citizen cooperation during interactions. There is also evidence that citizen complaints can be significantly reduced if policing is done with courtesy and respect. The study used data from systematic social observations of police-citizen encounters in order to examine the influence of procedural justice factors on citizen behavior. Because of the reciprocal nature of police citizen interactions, an instrumental variable was used in the statistical analysis in order to address the causal relationship between police behavior and citizen disrespect. 5 tables, 6 notes, and 58 references