Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy

Posted: August 31st, 2018 3:44 PM

Last Updated: January 20th, 2021 7:59 PM

Procedural justice describes the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is tied to the perceived fairness of the process and how they were treated; the Oakland Police Department, as part of the criminal justice system, must constantly demonstrate its legitimacy to the public.

Procedural Justice is an evidence-based practice grounded in the research of Yale professors Tom Tyler and Tracey Meares. Their work has been incorporated into the Ceasefire strategy as one of many initiatives to strengthen community-police relationships.

Procedural Justice (PJ) Training - now required of every Oakland Police officer - helps to ensure that OPD supports public safety in Oakland with procedures that demonstrate respect for each Oakland resident and visitor. OPD's goal for PJ training is to enhance positive interactions with the community. Unlike classes that focus on tactics, this course focuses solely on understanding the impacts of poor treatment of community members and giving officers practical principles to inform how they treat the community.

Captain Roland Holmgren administers an exam following Procedural Justice Training

The practical principles taught in the class are intended to help officers both personally and professionally.

The 4 principles are:

  • Giving people a voice (listening)
  • Being fair/unbiased (in your decision-making)
  • Being respectful (in your treatment of people)
  • Providing a trustworthy process

This training project received significant support from the Chicago Police Department and was developed for Oakland by the Ceasefire Oakland Partnership. In Oakland, it is being taught in cooperation with our community partners.

Phase 1: Classroom

The first official class was held in May of 2014 and was attended by the OPD Chief and the command and supervisory staff. By the end of 2014, the course had been certified by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). As of June of 2015, all sworn staff had successfully completed the training. It is now a mandatory training for all new staff and OPD Academy students.

Phase 2: Application in the Field

Phase two of the training is the practical application of the principles in the field. To meet this goal, the Oakland Police Department released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a research partner to assist with application of these principles at shooting/homicide scenes. The research partner will also assist with the development of skills-based training for specialized units; those most likely to be in contact with individuals directly impacted by homicides and shootings. This grant-funded pilot project is expected to begin in 2017.

US Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) PJ Site