Dr. Kyle Ward

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Recently, United States law enforcement officers have faced heavy criticism from both the public and media. Such criticism includes, but is not limited to, questions of police legitimacy, efficacy and law enforcement's overall effectiveness in fighting crime. Public and media criticism stems, in part from stigmatizing incidents occurring in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri. Unfortunately, this has led to ambushes of police officers and a disregard for the welfare of officers serving their communities. However, until recently research has focused upon citizen perceptions of police legitimacy which has left police perceptions of their own legitimacy unexplored. Therefore, the current study will add to current literature regarding police self-legitimacy by using survey data collected from nine police agencies, and a total of ninety-eight police officers in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. The current study sought to determine how law enforcement officers perceived their self-legitimacy within their departments by examining potential institutional factors which may influence an officer’s perceptions. Factors examined included public, peer and supervisor recognition, external procedural justice, and perceived department effectiveness. Overall, the current study found supervisor recognition as being statistically significant to perceived self-legitimacy. Therefore, the current study has implications for further research regarding police self-legitimacy.

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