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Assessing Procedural Justice During Police-Citizen Encounters with Officer Surveys, Citizen Surveys, and Systematic Social Observations

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $392,986)

This project will improve knowledge and understanding of procedural justice during police-citizen encounters through a mutually beneficial research partnership between the Norfolk Police Department (NPD) and Old Dominion University. This project aims to better understand officers’ perceptions about procedural justice, officers’ procedurally fair behavior during interactions, and citizens’ behavioral responses and subjective evaluations of their encounters. Current literature has suggested procedural justice is critical to officers’ encounters with citizens, because it is strongly correlated with police legitimacy which in turn leads to desired policing outcomes, such as citizens’ compliance and support. This project will contribute to a better understanding of important procedural justice issues faced by local agencies with a comprehensive approach. The project further contributes to policing policy and practice by improving the understanding of the benefits of body-worn cameras, procedural justice training, and the mechanisms of public cooperation, trust and satisfaction. The research design and methods have three major components: (1) two waves of officer surveys concerning their perceptions of procedural justice; (2) systematic social observations of recorded police-citizen interactions captured by in-car and body-worn cameras over a twelve month period; and (3) citizen surveys concerning citizens’ subjective evaluations of their interactions with the police. Research subjects include (1) all sworn employees of NPD (for the officer surveys), (2) recorded interactions between patrol officers and citizens (for the systematic social observations), and (2) citizens who have contacts with the police during the study period (for the citizen surveys). Data analysis will be a variety of approaches. Qualitative information from surveys and notes during observations will be analyzed using NVivo. Quantitative analyses will vary depending on the nature of data, and will include factor analysis, structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling, and other regression techniques. Departmental data (e.g., crimes and calls for service) and census data will be used to capture officer workload and the context of encounters. Taken together, the analyses will systematically address policing issues related to procedural justice. The anticipated outcomes of this project include peer-reviewed journal articles, interim and final reports to NIJ and NPD, publications in practitioner oriented outlets, a training manual, and data packages with de-identified data files from officer surveys, systematic social observations, and citizen surveys. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 16, 2016