Integrity in Procedural Justice

What Matters for the Code of Silence

Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovic, Maria R. Haberfeld, & Robert Peacock

The purpose of this paper are threefold: first, show how to measure the code of silence empirically; second, provide scholarly evidence of the extent and nature of the code; and, third, tease out the key correlates of the police officers' reluctance to report. This paper uses the theory of police integrity and the accompanying methodology to study the code. In 2013-2014, a police integrity survey was used to measure the contours of police integrity among 604 police officers from eleven police agencies located in the Midwest and the East Coast of the United States. The questionnaire contains descriptions of 11 scenarios describing various forms of police misconduct, followed by seven questions measuring officer views of scenario seriousness, the appropriate and expected discipline, and willingness to report misconduct. The results show that the code of silence is far from a simple prohibition of reporting. Our results point out that the code varies greatly across the scenarios, both for supervisors and line officers. Though substantially different, the supervisor code and the line officer code are the most similar for the scenarios evaluated as the most serious. Multivariate analyses reveal that the key factor related to the police officers' reluctance to report is the perception that the other officers would not report. In addition, familiarity with the official rules, evaluation of misconduct as serious, and the expectation of harsher discipline are also negatively related to the code. 

Symposium Presentation

Measuring, Managing, and Enhancing Procedural Justice in Policing: Promise and Pitfalls

Robert E. Worden & Sarah J. McLean

When people have contacts with the police, the fairness with which police are perceived to act affects citizens’ trust and confidence in the police and their sense that the police deserve to be obeyed – that is, the procedural justice that citizens subjectively experience affects the legitimacy of the police. The primary objective of this NIJ-funded project was to learn whether and how the measurement of procedural justice would lead to its better management. Information on the quality of police-citizen encounters was drawn from surveys of citizens who had contact with the police in each of two cities, Schenectady and Syracuse, NY. Following the accumulation of baseline survey data, survey results on citizens’ satisfaction and judgments about procedural justice in their police contacts were summarized and reported to command staffs on a monthly basis through the departments’ respective Compstat meetings. Thus the project provided for measures of police performance with respect to procedural justice with sufficient periodicity that the information was potentially useful in managing performance.

Symposium Presentation

Measuring & Managing Procedural Justice