Academic journal article Law & Society Review

Is It the What or the How? the Roles of High-Policing Tactics and Procedural Justice in Predicting Perceptions of Hostile Treatment: The Case of Security Checks at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel

Academic journal article Law & Society Review

Is It the What or the How? the Roles of High-Policing Tactics and Procedural Justice in Predicting Perceptions of Hostile Treatment: The Case of Security Checks at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel

Article excerpt

Following recent protests and civil disorders in Ferguson, Missouri and other American cities, President Barack Obama established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. "When any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly [by law enforcement], that's a problem for all of us," he stated (President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015: 5). One of the recommendations of the Task Force was that "...law enforcement agencies should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with rank and file officers and with the citizens they serve" (President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015: 1). Procedural justice refers to the fairness embedded in the processes by which power holders exercise their authority, and involves behaviors such as respectful speech, inviting citizen input, and transparency in decision making. Such behaviors, in turn, were found to promote highly desirable outcomes, including an overall sense of fair treatment, legitimacy, satisfaction, and willingness to comply and cooperate with police officers (e.g., Blader & Tyler 2003a, 2003b; JonathanZamir et al. 2015; Murphy 2014; National Research Council 2004; Schulhofer et al. 2011; Sunshine & Tyler 2003; Tyler 2004, 2009, 2011).

On December 30, 2014, the same month the Executive Order establishing the Task Force was signed, a police officer in New Jersey stopped a vehicle for allegedly driving through a stop sign. The officer politely greeted the occupants of the vehicle, identified himself by name and affiliation, and explained why they were being stopped. When one of the passengers asked a question about the location of the stop sign, the officer patiently explained. He was polite and calm. Yet, at least one of the passengers did not appear to fully comply with the officer's demands, and less than 90 seconds later, Jerame Reid, a 36-year old Black man, was shot dead by the officers who feared that he was reaching for a gun (Sanchez 2015). This event is one (extreme) example of the complexity of police-citizen interactions. The procedural justice model in its most simple form would have predicted that the officer's behavior would lead to citizen compliance and cooperation, which would have made the use of force unnecessary. Yet, like many police-citizen interactions, this encounter clearly involved other factors that led to the unfortunate outcome. Recognizing that the outcomes of procedurally-just treatment vary, important questions can be asked about this variation and the factors that affect it.

In this article we focus on one expected outcome of policeprovided procedural justice-the mitigation of negative emotions that may arise in police-citizen interactions: humiliation, intimidation, and a sense of indifferent treatment (referred to herein as perceptions of hostile treatment); and one factor that is expected to elicit such negative emotions: the use of "high-policing" practices. High policing addresses strategic problems at the macrolevel, such as national security (rather than local crime and disorder problems), and is characterized by tactics that are less transparent and accountable, and thus prone to violations of human rights and due process (e.g., Bayley & Weisburd 2009; Brodeur 1983, 2010; Brodeur & Dupeyron 2003). We ask if the behavioral elements of procedural justice (including treating citizens with respect, concern, and transparency) "neutralize" the expected negative outcomes of high policing, or, alternatively, if some intrusive tactics produce a sense of hostile treatment independent of the "amount" of procedural justice embedded in the officer's behavior.

We address this question in the context of airport security checks, which, since the terror attack of September 11, 2001, have become both very common and potentially invasive, humiliating and threatening (Hasisi et al. 2012). We use a survey of 1,970 passengers boarding an airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport (Israel) to assess the effects of four "extra" security measures (being asked a large number of questions; being questioned by many security officers; having one's suitcase opened and searched; and being questioned away from the other passengers) on perceptions of hostile treatment (feeling humiliated, intimidated, and being treated with insensitivity), while accounting for the procedural justice displayed by the security officers (as experienced by the passenger). …

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