Pillar 1: Building Trust and Legitimacy
By Mary O'Connor
Assistant Chief (retired), Tampa PD
Subject Matter Expert, NC4 Street Smart® Solution
Pillar 1 of the six in the 21st Century Policing report is titled "Building Trust and Legitimacy." Many of the recommendations within this pillar focus on procedural justice and the link between procedural justice and trust and legitimacy in the community.
Procedural justice in this regard refers to the concept of fairness. Researchers that worked on the 21st Century Policing Report found, in part, that when the police treat citizens in procedurally just ways, citizens are more likely to view the police as trustworthy and legitimate. This legitimacy and subsequent positive relations between the citizens and police can have long-term effects of crime reduction due to citizens' increased compliance with the law and other police-driven directives.
The building trust and legitimacy pillar also includes theories of how police agencies can increase citizens' confidence in their police force by increased transparency and information sharing, and a shift of policing mindset from warrior to guardian. Finally, this pillar describes how police agencies should embrace and implement non-enforcement activities as part of the trust-building process between them and the communities they serve.
NC4 Street Smartâ can help law enforcement agencies achieve the goal of successfully implementing the recommendations in this pillar. NC4 is committed to supplying law enforcement officers with technology that builds community trust by de-randomizing officers' daily patrol shifts. By using Street Smart, officers are made situationally aware of true, real-time crime patterns, and known and otherwise active and wanted offenders that are geographically based in the area they patrol. The increased information sharing between analysts, detectives, and patrol officers strengthens community trust and legitimacy in their police force, because the officers' daily efforts become more surgical and focused on concrete crime trends that will result in increased safety for citizens in the community.
The following case studies illustrate how Street Smart reinforces this direction that Pillar 1 is leading law enforcement agencies towards.
Case study #1
The suspect pictured above was fleeing the scene of a crime. The photo was put on a crime alert bulletin. An officer spotted a person who he thought matched the description of this suspect because the person had a cast on his arm. Instead of stopping the person based on that alone, the officer opened up the recently viewed Street Smart crime bulletin and noticed that the cast on this suspect's arm and the person that the officer was about to stop were on different arms. The officer continued on his way and didn't stop the subject. Although an investigative stop would have been justified, in this case, the subject would have ultimately been exonerated as being involved in this offense. The stop would have been unnecessary and caused decreased trust in the officer. The information at the officer's fingertips at the time helped him be more focused in the search for the true suspect.
Case study #2
Several years ago, officers in Tampa started conducting home checks of juvenile offenders that were ordered to either be on curfew or on home detention sanctions by a judge. The purpose of these non- enforcement actions were to ensure that the offenders were in compliance with the order. The resulting effects of the checks were overwhelmingly positive for everyone involved, and greatly increased the favorable relationship between the police and the offender's family members. The officers quickly became guardians of the offenders, looking out for their well-being, and reinforced the trust that the families had with officers that patrol their communities. Since 2008, juvenile arrests in the City of Tampa are down over 54%.
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