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Rightful Policing

NCJ Number
Tracey L. Meares; Peter Neyroud
Date Published
February 2015
20 pages

This paper - one in a series from the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety - gives priority to the cultivation of "legitimacy" as an important emphasis in police interactions with citizens in the course of law enforcement duties.


Although it is important that police comply with legal procedures when enforcing the law, this is not the main focus of citizens in the course of their interactions with law enforcement officers. Citizens respect police officers when police officers respect and dignify citizens during police interventions based on an officer's reasonable suspicion that a crime/violation has occurred or is about to occur. Police behavior that is disrespectful, rude, verbally abusive, domineering, and unreasonably aggressive undermines public support and appreciation for how police are handling their law enforcement duties. Law enforcement training still retains a strong bias toward learning legislation, criminal procedure, investigative techniques, and the use of police equipment. In addition to these important features of policing, it is also important that police develop social skills for positive interactions with individuals, both victims and potential offenders, under the stress of interactions with police. 48 endnotes and a listing of members of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety