One of the concepts taught during the Citizens Police Academy is an abbreviated training on „Procedural Justice”. This course has been offered to 12,000 Chicago Police Officers in last few years.
The program aims to strengthen relationships between the stakeholders of the community and the Chicago Police Department. Civilian participants in ‘Citizen Police Academy’ are selected from across the city. They are interested in improving safety in Chicago. Among participants are community activists, spiritual leaders, teachers, students, social workers etc.
“Procedural justice is the idea of fairness in the processes that resolve disputes and allocate resources. One aspect of procedural justice is related to discussions of the administration of justice and legal proceedings”, says Wikipedia.
”Procedural Justice” focuses on the way police and other legal authorities interact with the public, and how the characteristics of those interactions shape the public’s views of police, their willingness to obey the law, and the actual crime rates. Mounting evidence shows that community perceptions of procedural justice can have a significant impact on public safety. Procedural justice is based on four central principles: „treating people with dignity and respect, giving citizens ‚voice’ during encounters, being neutral in decision making, and conveying trustworthy motives.”
“Procedural Justice”, has been a new concept that is becoming very popular in the United States. We have learned that it is developed by experts from Yale University, Tracey L. Meares and David M. Kennedy, to help police departments in Chicago and other cities to overcome the mistrust of residents they serve.
This program has been taught in Chicago by the Chicago Police Department and has been replicated in many cities all over the United States. There are several phases of the program. Most Chicago police officers, about 12,000 got training on Phase I of the “P program.
There are Four Principles of the Procedural Justice. These principles aim is to improve relationships between the Chicago Police Officers and the Community when police has to enforce the law.
Among these principles are: the voice, neutrality, respectful treatment.
Some of these concepts are built on universal principles that are described in Steven Covey bestselling book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Presenters who represent different racial groups showed participants during training examples of police acts of kindness in dealing with different people across the country: officer buying shoes for a homeless person in New York; another police officer buying doughnut for a young man. That officer was later shot in the line of duty.
Another group of police officers play basketball with a young man. Some of these kids are afraid to go on streets.
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We have seen many acts of kindness in Chicago as well in dealing by police with seniors, kids and other citizens. The challenge is that it has been dominated by thousands of repetitions of other cycles of violence. There should be a better balance.
Procedural Justice looks into an issue of legitimacy: “The public view the police as entitled to exercise authority in order to maintain social order, manage conflicts and solve problems in the community”.
Procedural Justice: The procedures used by the police officers when citizens are treated fairly and with proper respect as human beings”.
Expectations and Legitimacy, US vs THEM
There maybe major differences in some police officers perception of people that they interact. It can be seen as a confrontation of Our World with the real world. The fact is that according to police presentations, 94-97% people are nice. 3-6% people cause most societal problems. The negative perspective of the people causing problems may influence police officers perspective of a large society and vice versa.
What do police officers expect from the society? Respect, cooperation, information.
Legitimacy in police work reflects on public trust and confidence in the police, acceptance of police authority (less confrontational whenever it is possible, understanding that police actions are morally correct and appropriate (fairness).
Procedural Justice based on these principles: the voice, neutrality, respectful treatment.
VOICE – listening. It is critical during the police encounters with public. It is not only the verbal communication but also tone and volume of voice. Body language (non-verbal) communication is even more important and sends a signal to the offenders.
Neutrality (fairness) – does police treat people with respect? Do police make decisions that are transparent and neutral?
Respectful Treatment (The Golden Rule)
Chicago Police wants to increase a better public perception of their work, services.
There are many negative perceptions on both sides: on the police side and on the public view of police. The Procedural Justice deals with these issues. The objective is to do what is right. The process of it is also very important.
Procedural Justice is a community deposit for police. Do police have more deposits that withdraws in the bank of their public perception? Do they treat a person with dignity when enforcing law? There are different perceptions of it in different parts of Chicago.
Chicago and the American society need more examples of fair treatment by law enforcement.
The challenge is enormous. It requires conscious efforts on both sides and time.Procedural Justice Program has been developed to teach police the value of treating people with respect and fairness. This is a long process for law enforcement and for public to establish better cooperation. It is done better and easier in some suburbs.oncept can also help civilians better understand how CPD works.
There is a lot of work to be done but it is worth to put the best efforts into it.
@ Andrew T. (Andrzej) Mikolajczyk
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