Research in Brief: Youth Attitudes Regarding Police Effectiveness and Trust in One Midsize City

A number of high-profile deadly force encounters over the past couple of years have sent a shockwave of anti-police rhetoric across the United States. The resulting tension has caused some officers to say they are less likely to engage in certain self-initiated activities, leading to claims that negative public perceptions have caused a widespread de-policing effect.1 To the extent that this may be true, researchers have also considered whether such trends have included a decrease in officers’ willingness to engage in community partnerships, a key element in building trust with community members. One recent study found such an effect but ultimately determined that officers’ willingness to engage the community was mediated by their perceptions of organizational justice and self-legitimacy (i.e., self-confidence in their own authority)—two potential indicators of working in a healthy organizational environment.2 Regardless, the fact remains that some officers and some departments may have become more apprehensive about engaging members of their community, particularly within groups that might share negative attitudes about law enforcement. Other departments, meanwhile, are responding more openly instead of avoiding these difficult and sometimes awkward conversations.