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Type of Contact and Evaluations of Police Officers: The Effects of Procedural Justice Across Three Types of Police-Citizen Contacts

NCJ Number
Date Published
William Wells
This study estimated the effects of citizens’ perceptions of procedural justice on overall ratings of officer performance across three types of police-citizen encounters.
Findings of the study showed actions that reflect procedural justice and outcome-oriented behaviors, including professionalism, competence, and contact-specific behaviors, had important effects on how citizens evaluated the officers with whom they had contact. Procedural fair treatment appeared to matter least to victims of crime. These citizens were likely to provide favorable evaluations of officers who were professional, appeared competent, recontacted them as expected, made them feel secure, and provided a referral to another agency. In addition, citizen demographics were relatively unimportant determinants of the overall ratings the officers received. Researchers and practitioners have attempted to isolate the factors that drive citizens’ perceptions and evaluations of the police because these judgments are viewed as critical. This study had two purposes: (1) to contribute to the growing body of work that has examined the effects of procedurally fair treatment on citizen evaluations of legal authorities, and (2) to examine whether the relative effects of citizens’ perceptions of procedural fairness varied across three distinct types of police-citizen contacts. Data were gathered as part of an evaluation of the Lincoln, NE Police Department’s Quality Service Audit (QSA). The QSA survey solicited information about different aspects of officer performance during contacts with citizens. Tables, references
Date Created: November 30, 2007