Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2012 Pages: 40-49
Using a more diversified sample of nations than in previous similar research, this study tested the hypothesis that regime characteristics explain variations in public confidence in the police.
Building on the insight of Almond and Verba (1963), Goldsmith (2005), and Sung (2006), the current study confirms that both democratic and authoritarian states can be characterized by public confidence in the police. Favorable public attitudes toward police are characteristic of both long-term, stable democratic and authoritarian states. In contrast, publics experiencing both unstable democracies and unstable authoritarian regimes lack confidence in the police. Study findings suggest that countries in the midst of a transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic regime will be expected to have a decline in public confidence that the police will maintain a predictable and consistent control of crime and disorder. When it is evident that a transition to a democracy has been achieved and persists over time, confidence in the police should increase and remain generally stable. The same pattern is likely to be seen in countries where a democracy has been replaced with an authoritarian regime in which crime control, order, and law enforcement are intensified and more intrusive. These findings suggest that stability, consistency, and predictability in police policy and practices are more important in determining favorable public attitudes toward police than are the forms of government under which the police operate. Still, the study concludes that confidence in the police even in a long-term, stable democracy should not be as high as under a long-term stable authoritarian regime, because a democratic culture fosters "critical citizens" (Norris, 1999). This study combined 5 data sources from 50 nations with 69,309 respondents. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses were used. 3 tables, 4 notes, and 78 references