Citizen Complaints as Threats To Police Legitimacy: The Role of Officers’ Occupational Attitudes

William Terrill, Eugene A. Paoline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Citizen complaints of police misconduct represent formal expressions of procedural injustice and can thereby threaten police legitimacy. Although prior explanations of complaints have focused primarily on officer demographics, police occupational attitudes have been ignored. The current study fills this empirical void by analyzing data collected from the Assessing Police Use of Force Policy and Outcomes project. We examine the role of patrol officers’ global assessments of their occupation, and specific facets of their internal and external work environments, on overall citizen complaints, as well as allegations of officer discourtesy and improper use of force. Results from our multivariate models reveal a number of attitudinal effects. The implications of these findings for police practitioners and researchers are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-211
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 6 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • citizen complaints
  • occupational attitudes
  • police
  • police legitimacy
  • procedural justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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