Justice From Within: The Relations Between a Procedurally Just Organizational Climate and Police Organizational Efficiency, Endorsement of Democratic Policing, and Officer Well-Being

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Abstract

Recent clashes between law enforcement and the public have led to increased attention on policing strategies that build trust and motivate cooperation in communities through the application of fair procedures and decision-making. A growing body of policing research has highlighted that officers commonly report working within police departments that lack procedural fairness and that these intradepartmental dynamics influence officers motivation and behavior on the street. This study builds on this work by examining the influence of a procedurally fair organizational climate on officer’s organizational behavior, commitment to democratic policing, and well-being. Patrol officers and sergeants in a large urban police force completed surveys assessing their perceptions of their department, the communities they police, their views on different policing styles, and their well-being. Results showed that when officers were in a procedurally fair department, they were more likely to trust and feel obligated to obey their supervisors, less likely to be psychologically and emotionally distressed, and less likely to be cynical and mistrustful about the world in general and the communities they police in particular. More importantly, these effects were associated with greater endorsement of democratic forms of policing, increased organizational efficiency, and officer well-being. Taken together these results clearly support the utility of infusing procedural justice into the internal working climate as a means to improve police officer job performance, their well-being, and their relationship with the communities they police.

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