Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. William V. Pelfrey, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Lum

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Cook

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Trisha Rhodes


American policing is shaped by an array of challenges. Police are expected to address crime and engage the community, yet police are held to higher expectations of accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency than ever before. Police legitimacy is the ability of the police to exercise their authority in the course of maintaining order, resolving conflicts, and solving problems (PERF, 2014). The procedural justice and police legitimacy literature suggest that by exhibiting procedurally just behaviors within police-citizen encounters, officers are considered legitimate by the public (PERF, 2014; Tyler, 2004, Tyler & Jackson, 2012).

This study examines procedural justice through systematic observations of police-citizen encounters recorded by body worn cameras in one mid-Atlantic police agency. The four elements of procedural justice (participation, neutrality, dignity and respect, and trustworthiness) are assessed to examine police behavior and its outcomes. The research questions concern how police acting in procedurally just ways may influence citizen behaviors.

Descriptive statistics indicate high levels of procedural justice. Regression analyses suggest that procedural justice may predict positive citizen behaviors within police-citizen encounters. This study highlights the significance of procedural justice as an antecedent to police legitimacy and offers a new mode of observation: body worn camera footage.


© Shana Mell 2016

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