Trust In Law Enforcement

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Police Misconduct and Trust in Law Enforcement Police officers are supposed to work with the communities in which they serve in order to maintain law and order. Citizens are supposed to be able to trust law enforcement to keep them safe however; trust in law enforcement has been a concept that has been problematic for years. This is an important topic because without the trust and cooperation from the citizens the police cannot effectively do their jobs. Police brutality, racial discrimination, and misconduct have all been associated with distrust and negative attitudes towards law enforcement. Race specifically has been found to be the strongest socio-demographic predictor of negative attitudes towards the police (Sivasubramaniam & Goodman-Delahunty,…show more content…
Political and societal institutions such as the police usually don’t fall into this realm because of all the police bias and racial discrimination that has been a continuous problem in the world. According to Wu, Poteyeva, and Sun (2012), poor government performance, including non-responsiveness and corruption, poses additional threats to public trust in police. Citizens expect law enforcement officers to act in a responsible way to alleviate crime and conflict not create it. Reading and seeing the reports of police misconduct within the community can influence the trust level between citizens and the police. Constantly having a negative image of law enforcement not only creates a rift between citizens and the police, it also creates a level of uncertainty in the police’s ability to effectively do their jobs. A study done by Wu and Sun (2010), found that most of the participants did not believe that their local police treated wealthy and poor citizens equally. Similarly most of the participants did not consider their local police as honest, upright, or ethical, and over half of the participants had doubts regarding the police’s ability to effectively respond to crime, solve crime, or prevent crime (Wu & Sun,…show more content…
Over the past few years there have been numerous reports of police misconduct and brutality in the news media. The media has delivered the information in a way that puts law enforcement officers in a negative light and feeds on the public distrust of these officers. According to Weitzer and Tuch (2005), repeated exposure to media reports on police abuse (i.e., excessive force, verbal abuse, and corruption) is a strong predictor of the belief that police bias exists, is widespread, and is unacceptable. During their research Chermak, McGarrell, and Gruenewald (2006), found that media coverage did affect citizen’s evaluation of the guilt of the officers involved in the misconduct cases. The more they read about the case the more likely they were to think that the officers were guilty. The media surrounding acts of police misconduct have created an aura of distrust amongst citizens in regards to law enforcement. People who frequently hear or read about incidents of police misconduct as transmitted by the media, are inclined to conclude that the police engage in racial profiling, are prejudiced, and discriminate against minority individuals (Weizter and Tuch,

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