Changing Police Encounters through Procedural Justice Training: A Multi-City Randomized Trial at Crime Hot Spots

Changing Police Encounters through Procedural Justice Training: A Multi-City Randomized Trial at Crime Hot Spots
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-06-16
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Changing Police Encounters
Unit 2Transcript: Changing Police Encounters
Unit 3Workbook: Changing Police Encounters
Unit 4Recording: Changing Police Encounters

There are beliefs that police reform initiatives are antagonistic to crime reduction, a push and pull that has created political friction from different sectors and their respective agendas. This webinar explores the findings of a study across three US cities that actually makes the case for the value of procedural justice (PJ) in affecting effective crime control outcomes while also advancing reform efforts.

Sharing the findings of their multi-city study are:

  • David Weisburd, Distinguished Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at George Mason University; Elected Fellow of the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Experimental Criminology; Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Proactive Policing
  • Cody Telep, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University
  • Heather Vovak, Research Scientist at the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC

Specifics they discussed in this session include:

  • The agencies, organizations, and individuals that are involved in the study.
  • The rationale to study procedural justice in hotspots, its possible effects to crime and the community, and the myth that police reform and crime control are incompatible.
  • The four key elements central in procedural justice and what these mean and look like.
  • The dearth of studies on procedural justice training and its impacts on community members and crime.
  • The framework used to measure the effectiveness of a policing intervention.
  • The questions that the research aims to find answers for and the variables it wants to understand.
  • The 9-month study in Tucson (AZ), Cambridge (MS), and Houston (TX), delimiting and identifying the hotspots, and selecting the officers that will be part of the training group and control group.
  • The length, modality, scope, and dosage of the procedural justice training provided to select officers.
  • The different methodologies used in the research to collect data.
  • Findings on the officers’ perceptions, the interaction, the citizens who had contact with the officers, and the communities’ insights about procedural justice and legitimacy.
    • No significant differences at baseline between the trained and control groups.
    • Significant positive changes in officer attitudes from the trained group.
    • How PJ-trained officers were more likely to demonstrate the key elements of procedural justice in their interactions with the citizens.
    • A greater likelihood of presenting disrespectful behavior from the control group.
    • How the citizens whom the officers interacted with found the PJ-trained officers to be neutral and trustworthy, and gave them voice and respect.
    • How citizens in the communities where the officers were assigned to did not have much of a change in perception as it related to legitimacy.
    • Favorable evaluations from the community on harassment, mistreatment, and use of force.
    • Decline in arrests for the PJ-trained group versus the control.
    • General decline in crime, notably greater for the PJ-trained group, during the intervention.
  • Takeaways of the study that…
    • Debunks the dichotomy between procedural justice and crime control and proves that PJ actually supports crime reduction efforts.
    • Emphasizes the importance of training in changing officer behavior.
    • Highlights the value of PJ training in special units doing proactive police work.
    • Illustrates how the usual data collected by agencies is insufficient to assess the impact of police reform programs.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • The effect of higher educational attainment on critical-thinking and decision-making.
  • Training access and resources.
  • The selection process and assignments of the officers selected for the PJ training.
  • Use of body-worn camera footage in the study.
  • Specific questions asked and parameters used to measure disrespect.
  • Securing internal buy-in for the training.
  • Expanding the study to include campus police and sheriff’s departments.


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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Up until this webinar, I had not heard of any evidence of the effectiveness of Procedural Justice. While there are still questions about its application outside hotspot policing, I think it shows great promise. The presenters are very well qualified and are clearly interested in helping the law enforcement field. Excellent webinar!” — Brian
  • “I’d love to see a scaled-up version of the study – super interesting and great presentation!” — Christine
  • “Great information and an interesting study, the data was promising that most felt respected by law enforcement.” — Emily
  • “As a retired Police Lieutenant, it was interesting to see a different approach to policing, we had Community Oriented Policing during my time in Law Enforcement. Thank you!” — Francine
  • “Data is compelling.” — Joseph
  • “It was great to see a research study on the application of PJ and if it’s potentially working. I think it would be even more valuable to do a study on application of PJ internally within an organization and how that might strengthen PJ being used with the community/public.” — Rachel
  • “I found this to be an interesting study that was a good mix of geographic / spatial analysis along with surveys to gather field information! Thank you very much!” — Steve
  • “You provided individuals who are exerts in their respective field that presented a case study to prove why, and provided information on how, police can reform. It was evidence-based, flowed nicely and easy to understand for all levels of law enforcement personnel. Thank you for providing this training!” — Wilbur




About the National Policing Institute: Formerly known as the National Police Foundation, the National Policing Institute’s mission is to pursue excellence in policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing.

The National Policing Institute has been on the cutting edge of police innovation for over 50 years since it was established by the Ford Foundation as a result of the President’s Commission on the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967) and the related conclusions of the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions, taking place during the same era.



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