Procedural Justice and Legitimacy

Procedural justice and legitimacy should serve as core principles guiding the work and processes of effective civilian oversight. Rooted in behavioral psychology, procedural justice typically centers on how authority is exercised. For entities whose authority  is established by law, the recognition of their right to that authority and perceptions of how fairly that authority is exercised are crucial components of legitimacy. Research has shown that procedurally-just interactions between law enforcement and the community positively impact the public’s compliance with laws and willingness to assist in crime control efforts. The literature has also shown that officer perceptions of a procedurally-just work environment is associated with reduced misconduct and corruption, as well as greater endorsement of policing reforms, reduced mistrust and cynicism with the community, willingness to obey supervisors, and increased officer well-being.Though the literature on procedural justice and civilian oversight is relatively sparse, there is research supporting the notion that procedurally just complaint processes — where complainants report being satisfied with the quality of communication and the process — increase complainant satisfaction.