Internal Procedural Justice, Moral Alignment, and External Procedural Justice in Democratic Policing

Published date01 September 2018
Date01 September 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Internal Procedural
Justice, Moral
Alignment, and
External Procedural
Justice in
Democratic Policing
Ivan Y. Sun
, Yuning Wu
Maarten Van Craen
, and
Kevin Kuen-lung Hsu
Notwithstanding the popularity of the process-based model of policing among social
scientists, research on factors that encourage police officers to engage in procedur-
ally fair behavior is relatively scarce. Based on the fair policing from the inside out
framework and survey data collected from Taiwan police officers, this study explored
the connection between internal procedural justice and external procedural justice
through the mechanisms of moral alignment with both supervisors and citizens and
perceived citizen trustworthiness. Fair supervision was found to build up moral
alignment between officers and supervisors and between officers and citizens,
which in turn led to stronger commitment to responsiveness and fair treatment of
the public. Internal procedural justice and moral alignment also cultivated officers’
perceptions of public trustworthiness, which similarly strengthened officers’
response and fair treatment toward the public.
Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA
KU Leuven, University of Leuven, Belgium
Central Police University, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Corresponding Author:
Ivan Y. Sun, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware, Newark,
DE 19716, USA.
Police Quarterly
2018, Vol. 21(3) 387–412
!The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1098611118772270
internal procedural justice, moral alignment, external procedural justice, trust in
citizens, Taiwan police
Fair and accountable policing has taken center stage in recent public debates on
the legitimacy of government institutions. In the United States, deadly police–
public incidents in Ferguson, New York City, and Baltimore elucidated how low
perceived legitimacy, resulting chief‌ly from abusive and biased policing, has
increased public discontent with legal authorities and even antigovernment
activities, causing a detrimental impact on police–community relations.
In Europe, police response to the 2015–2016 terrorist attacks and the refugee
crisis has raised great concerns about the way that police off‌icers treat citizens
and immigrants in some countries. Indeed, people’s perceptions of government
legitimacy signal the extent to which they are willing to comply with and accept
decisions made by government authorities (Beetham, 1991; Tyler, 1990).
Focusing on the antecedents and consequences of legitimacy, studies conducted
in Western democracies have consistently shown that fair and equitable proce-
dures in both treatment and decision-making during police–public encounters
cultivate legitimacy, which in turn enhances legal compliance and cooperation
with the police (e.g., Donner, Maskaly, Fridell, & Jennings, 2015; Hinds &
Murphy, 2007; Jackson et al., 2012; Jackson, Bradford, Stanko, & Hohl,
2013; Kochel, Parks, & Mastrofski, 2013; Reisig & Lloyd, 2009; Sunshine &
Tyler, 2003; Tyler & Huo, 2002; Wolfe, Nix, Kaminski, & Rojek, 2016).
Applying similar procedural justice frameworks to police agencies, a related
vein of inquiry has illustrated that organizational procedural justice was funda-
mentally important in promoting greater job satisfaction, reducing job turnover,
increasing commitment to and compliance with rules and policies, and mitigat-
ing the impact of high prof‌ile negative events on off‌icers (Bradford, Quinton,
Myhill, & Porter, 2014; Haas, Van Craen, Skogan, & Fleitas, 2015; Nix &
Wolfe, 2016; Tankebe, 2010; Wolfe & Nix, 2016). Furthermore, researchers
have also started exploring the empirical link between organizational justice,
particularly how off‌icers are treated by their supervisors, and police off‌icers’
support for procedural fairness (Bradford & Quinton, 2014; Tankebe & Mesko,
2015; Trinkner, Tyler, & Goff, 2016; Van Craen & Skogan, 2017; Wu, Sun,
Chang, & Hsu, 2017). Albeit having garnered greater attention in recent studies,
the effects of organizational justice and the mediating mechanisms between fair
supervision internally and street justice externally remain underinvestigated.
The current study seeks to expand the investigation of the roles of procedural
justice and legitimacy by assessing the direct and indirect linkages between
388 Police Quarterly 21(3)

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