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Pillar 1 — Building Trust and Community

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EPPD open house event - fingerprints imagePeople are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have legitimate authority. The public confers legitimacy only on those they believe are acting in just ways. Building trust and legitimacy is not only the first pillar but also the foundational principle underlying the nature of relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Since the 1990s, policing has become more effective, better equipped and better organized to tackle crime. Despite this, polls show the public’s confidence in police work has remained flat, and in some cases, confidence has declined. Decades of research and practice support the premise that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have the legitimate authority to do so.

Recommendation Description

Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. Toward that end, police and sheriffs’ departments should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve.

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Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust.

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Law enforcement agencies should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust and legitimacy. This will help ensure decision making is understood and in accord with stated policy.

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Law enforcement agencies should promote legitimacy internally within the organization by applying the principles of procedural justice.

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Law enforcement agencies should proactively promote public trust by initiating positive non-enforcement activities to engage communities that typically have high rates of investigative and enforcement involvement with government agencies.

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Law enforcement agencies should consider the potential damage to public trust when implementing crime fighting strategies.

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Law enforcement agencies should track the level of trust in police by their communities just as they measure changes in crime. Annual community surveys, ideally standardized across jurisdictions and with accepted sampling protocols, can measure how policing in that community affects public trust.

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Law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities.

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Law enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities. This is central to overall public safety.

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How the Eden Prairie Police Department Demonstrates Building Trust and Legitimacy

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