The legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public in considered one of the most important goals of policing, and has been found to be associated with numerous cooperative behaviors. The main antecedent of legitimacy has consistently been found to be procedural justice, followed by performance evaluations. However, despite recent terrorism threats and increasing police involvement in homeland security, determinants of police legitimacy have not been examined under conditions of acute security threats. This article compares antecedents of police legitimacy in the Israeli town “Sderot”, which has been the target of repeated missile attacks, to determinants of legitimacy in other communities in Israel, which have not faced acute security threats in recent years. In accordance with the literature on the effects of threat, we find that the role of performance in shaping evaluations of police legitimacy was significantly larger in Sderot than in our comparison communities. At the same time, the role of procedural justice was not significantly different, and indeed procedural justice remained the primary antecedent of legitimacy in both conditions. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
Jonathan, Tal, and David Weisburd. 2009. "Does Police Performance Increase in Importance for the Public During Times of Security Threats, and do Evaluations of Procedural Justice Decline in Importance?: Findings from a Quasi-Experimental Study of Antecedents of Police Legitimacy in Israel." Israel:Hebrew University. (December): 1-38. http://law.huji.ac.il/upload/Police_performance.DOC