How Street Stops Influence Police Legitimacy


Perceptions of police legitimacy are shaped by whether police are seen as exercising their authority fairly and lawfully, according to a new Columbia Law School study.

Researchers conducted phone interviews with 1,261 male New York City residents between the ages of 18 and 26 the influence; the interviews “showed an association between the number of police stops and a diminished sense of police legitimacy.”

But the study notes that the total number of stops was less influential on police legitimacy than perceptions of injustice or illegality during those stops.

In order to improve perceptions of police legitimacy, the study's authors suggest that police should treat each encounter with citizens as a 'teachable moment' that can build legitimacy.

“Lowered legitimacy has an influence on both law abidingness and the willingness to cooperate with legal authorities,” researchers wrote.

Read the full study HERE.

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