Trust and Legitimacy

Public approval and acceptance are the basis of effective policing. The public
and police must find common ground on which to trust each other. Police must earn their community’s trust and cooperation, and, in turn, the public must respect officers as faithful guardians of the community who both follow and enforce
the law.

This requires those who enforce the law to be accountable for adhering to it. Unintentional mistakes are not the same as intentional misconduct, but when police cross the line of established policy or legally permissible conduct, they must be held accountable in order to have legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

Effective policing requires the police and members of the community to develop constructive and respectful ways of interacting with each other. The principles of community policing are critical to this process. The well of good will must be built and filled daily and long before a crisis hits.

These principles of trust and legitimacy must also permeate the decisions about supervisor selection, especially the front-line supervisors who are in most frequent contact with officers on a daily basis. Thus, the criteria for supervisor selection, training, and accountability are essential elements of defining the culture of a department. Supervisors must be held accountable for reinforcing the core values of the department in the discharge of their daily responsibilities.

Our Principles and all of our recommendations flow from this concept.