Police Legitimacy Notes

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Police Legitimacy & Use of Force

Tom Tyler, “ Enhancing Police Legitimacy”

-Legitimacy = Undisputed Credibility and integrity. – Effectiveness of the police ultimately depends on their legitimacy. - 1st b/c the moral paradox underlying the police use of nonnegotiable coercive force can be resolved only if police actions are qualitatively distinct from other actors’ use of force. - 2nd b/c people tend to obey authority out of respect for its legitimacy more than out of fear of its power. - Greater police legitimacy decreases the need for nonnegotiable coercive intervention; it also builds active community support for police efforts. -“Perceptions of legitimacy carry more weight w/ the public than effectiveness of enforcement.”-Tyler, Tom; 88) - Tyler and Huo (2001): perceived legitimacy of the police and perceived fairness/favorability of outcomes carry equal weight in citizens’ acceptance of officers’ decisions. - The amazing transformation of LAPD: 76% of Latinos and 68% of blacks now give LAPD positive grades (LA Times, 2009 poll) Weber- Tragedy of Power – At some point, force is inevitably necessary to preserve peace and social order. GRAHAM v. CONNOR

* The police use of force is a perennial reminder of the fundamental imperfection of the tragedy of power. * When all else fails, people call the cops (Egon Bittner) ; this is b/c the police role is ultimately define by their monopoly on the right to use nonnegotiable coercive force. * We rely on the police precisely because of this monopoly; yet at the same time, we are repulsed by its underlying harsh reality. …Leads Us To Mary-Douglas “Purity and Danger”

* We value dirty work as necessary but are repelled by those who do it so there is a moral ambiguity of force, which means that force is sometime necessary, but the decision to use it and judging the extent of its use are inherently unclear. * (Bittner) – Policing is a “tainted occupation” b/c in using force the officer is fighting...
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