Purpose: Law enforcement agencies have historically used psychological examinations, in addition to other methods, to screen candidates out of the applicant pool. However, agencies could be better served by ensuring recruits are predisposed to the expected behaviors and qualities that are required as part of community-oriented and respectful policing. The purpose of this paper is to provide an initial look into what officer-level characteristics might lead to improved treatment in police-community interactions (PCIs). Characteristics under review include communication styles and personality dimensions.
Design/methodology/approach: Data come from the National Police Research Platform’s longitudinal recruit study and its PCI survey. Community members were surveyed about their interactions with officers involved in the study. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze these two-level data.
Findings: The findings suggest that certain officer-level characteristics were associated with higher perceptions of procedurally just behavior. Specifically, officers with higher levels of empathy and lower levels of neuroticism scored higher on both the officer’s quality of treatment (QT) and quality of decision making toward the community member. Additional to those dimensions, officers with increased emotional control received higher scores on their QT.
Originality/value: These findings have important implications for identifying and measuring new characteristics to be used in police hiring procedures. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first instance where personality dimensions and communications styles have been used to predict law enforcement officers’ procedural justice behaviors in the field.
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