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Inside SJPD Procedural justicE and Police Legitimacy - the keys to trust and meaningful change

"Building trust and legitimacy on both sides of the police-citizen divide is not only the first pillar of this task force’s report but also the foundational principle underlying this inquiry into the nature of the relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve." – President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

As part of an ongoing campaign to strengthen the working relationship between the community and the police, all San Jose Police Department (SJPD) officers and personnel are undergoing Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy training. This training is the second installment of a two-part program to improve how officers serve and protect communities, especially in ways that promote trust and collaboration. The first section covered Fair and Impartial Policing which taught officers how a person's implicit biases can influence the way they do their jobs.

What is Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy?

Building on Fair and Impartial Policing, Procedural Justice is when police officers manage their bias and treat citizens fairly with proper respect. As a result, there is a trust between the public and the police. This trust leads to Police Legitimacy where the public views the police as entitled to exercise authority in order to maintain social order, manage conflicts, and solve problems in the community.

"The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior, and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect ... The police should always have a relationship with the public that gives reality to the tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police." — from Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Law Enforcement 1829

The Elements of Procedural Justice

The following elements (Voice, Neutrality, Respect and Dignity, Trustworthiness) are the essential components of the Procedural Justice training that SJPD personnel receive.

Voice — Allow the participant to voice their point of view or offer an explanation. People want to explain their situation or tell their side of the story. This requires active listening by the SJPD officer, who must also keep in mind that non-verbal communication (stance, facial expression, gestures, eye movement) is sometimes more important than what he or she says. Under stress, verbal communication accounts for 7% of conveyed information, tone and volume accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%. Having a voice lets people feel that they are a part of the process and they have input into the process.

Neutrality (fair process) — Follow an unbiased decision-making process and apply the decision equally and to all. Explain why a person has been stopped and explain the process. People want to know that the police are behaving and making decisions in a neutral, unbiased manner.

Respect and Dignity — Treat people with dignity and validate them as human beings. People want to be treated with politeness and dignity, and have their rights respected.

Trustworthiness — Listen to people, consider their needs, and take their needs and concerns into account before explaining your decision/action. People act favorably when they believe that the officer is caring and acting in the best interest of the people being dealt with.

21st Century Policing

The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing was a response to a number of serious incidents across this nation between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect. The President wanted a quick but thorough response that would begin the process of healing and restore community trust.

Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy makes up the first pillar of the Six Pillars of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The other five pillars include: Policy & Oversight, Technology & Social Media, Community Policing & Crime Reduction, Training & Education, and Wellness & Safety.

The task force's final report (built around the six pillars) created a road map for the future of policing and provides clear direction on how to build trust with the public while reducing crime.

Chief Eddie Garcia keeps in touch with the community through the media and public appearances.

San Jose Police Department Vision Statement

The SJPD is a dynamic, progressive, and profession organization dedicated to maintaining community partnerships which promote a high quality of life for the City's diverse population. The Department is committed to treating all people with dignity, fairness, and respect, protecting their rights and providing equal protection under the law.

In his introduction to the Procedural Justice training at SJPD, Chief of Police Eddie Garcia emphasized, "The San Jose Police Department strives to do everything possible as an organization to deal with sensitive issues plaguing our profession. Completing this training will benefit us as a professional law enforcement agency and help improve the relationship we have with the community we serve."

Want to be a part of the San Jose Police Department? Visit www.SJPDyou.com.

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