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  • Reflections on Police Reform

    Robert E. Worden, Sarah J. McLean

    Chapter from the book: Worden R. & McLean S. 2017. Mirage of Police Reform: Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy.


    This concluding chapter summarizes the principal findings of the research and the contributions to knowledge that the findings represent, and then it considers the implications of the findings for understanding procedural justice and police legitimacy, police efforts to promote police legitimacy, and future research on procedural justice. One implication is that it is imperative to draw a sharp distinction between procedural justice as citizens’ subjective experience and procedural justice as overt police behavior. A second implication is that police cannot do much to “create” legitimacy through the day-to-day interactions with citizens. Even organizational police reforms that have been weakly implemented and loosely coupled to the technical core of policing, such as community policing and tightened use of force policies, have probably done more than street-level procedural justice could to increase the legitimacy of the agencies that adopted them. The documented experience of the Cincinnati Police Department, which adopted a series of reforms pursuant to agreements with the Justice Department and a number of community stakeholder groups, illustrates what can be achieved with such reforms. A third implication is that in an institutionalized organization, what gets measured does not always get managed, as middle managers, supervisors, and the rank-and-file engage in sensemaking.

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    Worden R. & McLean S. 2017. Reflections on Police Reform. In: Worden R. & McLean S, Mirage of Police Reform. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.30.j

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    Published on May 12, 2017