Reconciliation Process Overview

This document describes the principal elements we have identified as essential to the reconciliation process, and identifies a process and key steps. It is focused on police/community relations, while recognizing that the framework presented here may ideally be extended to other criminal justice institutions. To read the full document, click here

Procedural justice and pretextual stops

One focus of procedural justice is how police act when they engage with the community, but why they engage could matter even more. Jonathan Blanks, writing in the Case Western Reserve Law Review, argues that certain types of legal police engagement, no matter how friendly or polite, may still undermine procedural justice. Blanks explains this concept through the example of the pretextual stop, which he says fundamentally violates trust and good faith between police and community.

Pretextual stops erode trust for two reasons, according to Blanks. First, “the stop itself is based on an officer’s hunch that very often has a racial component”—whether real or perceived. Though an officer may try to establish standing and gain trust during the stop, the neutrality of the stop is violated by the reasoning the officer used to initiate the stop. Second, these stops are defined by dishonesty and an “illusion of consent,” because “police officers only try to gain consent to search a car when the officers lack the probable cause to suspect criminal activity.” There is an understanding, particularly among minorities, that rejecting a request for a search comes with risks—handcuffing, agitation, or possible violence—and that the search may occur even without consent. When officers identify specific people for pretextual stops and then use pressure or deception to conduct a search, it “shifts an officers’ role from protector and public servant in a position of trust to antagonist and interrogator—even if he is doing so politely.”

This argument is supported by data from traffic stops in Kansas City. Blanks cites research that shows that despite the fact that blacks have higher distrust of police, whites and blacks deemed traffic stops equally fair when they had “unambiguously” violated the law. However, when officers stopped motorists for minor infractions and proceeded to question them and request to search the vehicle, it resulted in hostility and resentment among all races, but particularly among African-American and Latino drivers (who were also disproportionately stopped for investigatory purposes). Drivers’ evaluation of the stop didn’t depend on whether officers were polite or respectful: the reason for and actions of the stop mattered.

The larger argument, however, applies to all forms of engagement. “An overemphasis on kindness and courteousness may discount the impact of the decisionmaking that led to the initial contact or encounter with police in the first place,” Blanks writes. “Procedural justice may be a partial remedy to heal the relationships between black communities and the police, but police agencies and legislators will need to reorient law enforcement priorities and strategies to better serve the communities that need their protection the most.” To him, that means changing the incentives—monetary, occupational, and political—that encourage stops and other strategies that carry “longer-term social costs” but only “fleeting gains from the arrests they enable.”

Click here to read the full essay:

Principled Policing

Please click here to read the piece by Chief Jones. 

Justice from Within: The Relations between a Procedurally Just Organizational Climate and Police Organizational Efficiency, Endorsement of Democratic Policing, and Officer Well-being

Tom Tyler, Phillip Atiba Goff, and Rick Trinkner have a new paper in press with Psychology, Public Policy and Law titled “Justice from Within: The Relations between a Procedurally Just Organizational Climate and Police Organizational Efficiency, Endorsement of Democratic Policing, and Officer Well-being.” The paper demonstrates that police officers’ experiences of procedural justice within their departments is associated with a number of positive outcomes, including increased support of the department itself and of general democratic approaches to policing.

Fines and Fees Resource Guide

Strengthening Community-Police Relationships: Training as a Tool for Change

Issue Brief: Reconciliation

Issue Brief: Implicit Bias

Issue Brief: Procedural Justice

How to Support Trust Building in Your Agency

How to Serve Diverse Communities

How to Increase Cultural Understanding

Intelligence-Led Community Policing, Community Prosecution, and Community Partnerships

Intelligence-Led Community Policing, Community Prosecution, and Community Partnerships (IL3CP) is a unique approach to community policing that extends community partnerships to include prosecutorial and community service organizations along with law enforcement. The innovative program was developed and refined by the Rockland County District Attorney's Office (RCDAO) in New York State. Based on the promising implementation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police worked with diverse three jurisdictions - Mesa, Arizona; Newport News, Virginia; and Saint Paul, Minnesota - to implement similar approaches tailored to their circumstances and needs. This publication provides an overview of the initial program as implemented in Rockland County, as well as the efforts to pilot IL3CP in the other jurisdiction and the important lessons learned about benefits, successes, and challenges in implementing this innovative approach.

Fact Sheet: US DOJ Gender-Bias Policing

Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

The Impact of Psychological Science on Policing in the United States: Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and Effective Law Enforcement

In the past several years, incidents between community members and the police have highlighted what many have been feeling for a long time – a lack of a sense of police legitimacy.

In this comprehensive report published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Tom R. Tyler from Yale Law School and Yale University, Phillip Atiba Goff from University of California, Los Angeles, and Robert J. MacCoun from Stanford Law School review findings from psychological science highlighting the positive impacts of police legitimacy on police-community relations.

Strengthening the Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color

On April 4, 2014, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) hosted a conference with law enforcement officials, civil rights activists, academic experts, community leaders, and policymakers at the Ford Foundation offices in New York City. This forum was the first in a series of forums focusing on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This publication, recently published by COPS at DOJ, is a great outline of the first of many forums to focus on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Racial Reconciliation, Truth-Telling, and Police Legitimacy

This report discusses issues raised at an executive session hosted by the COPS Office and the National Network for Safe Communities in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2012. It gives police executives the chance to hear from their own colleagues on why engaging in the process of racial reconciliation is not only morally but also functionally and operationally critical. The concepts of police legitimacy, legal cynicism, and informal social control introduced here provide the theoretical underpinning that helps to explain in practical terms how police who actively and sincerely engage with communities of color will find they can do their job better and more effectively. Citizens are more likely to obey the law, cooperate with the police, believe in the legitimacy of the formal justice system, and set internal community norms that reinforce lawful behavior. This collectively results in achieving the primary goals of law enforcement: reducing violence, decreasing fear of crime, and increasing quality of life.


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