Police Accountability: Current Issues and Research Needs   [open pdf - 124KB]

"Accountability is a vital element of American policing. Both individual officers and law enforcement agencies should be held to account for their actions. Effective accountability procedures are essential if the police are to achieve their goals of lawfulness and legitimacy, as defined by The National Academy of Sciences. Lawfulness refers to compliance with the formal requirements of the law, including statutes and court decisions. Legitimacy refers to the perception that police conduct is both lawful and consistent with public expectations (National Research Council, 2004). Lawfulness and legitimacy, in turn, are essential if the police are to achieve their goals of reducing crime and disorder, enhancing the quality of neighborhood life, and serving community needs. A lack of legitimacy inhibits the development of working partnerships that are an essential ingredient in community policing and problem-oriented policing (Goldstein, 1990, Scott, 2000). Contrary to the popular view that effective crime control and respect for constitutional principles are competing values in policing (Packer, 1968), experts today increasingly recognize that lawful conduct and accountability are essential for crime-fighting (Bayley, 2002) This paper examines the social science literature on police accountability procedures related to the conduct of individual officers. From the perspective of evidence-based policy-making, it seeks to determine whether there is reliable evidence that particular accountability procedures are effective."

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National Criminal Justice Reference Service: http://www.ncjrs.gov/
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