How police effectiveness impacts police legitimacy and cooperation with police

Tammy Rinehart Kochel
Associate Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Southern Illinois University

Key Findings

  • A sense of civic duty and trust in police fairness appears to be what compels individuals to do the right thing and report crime to the police.
  • High perceptions of police legitimacy and procedural justice for a citizen are associated with an increased probability of reporting crime to the police.
  • A high perceived effectiveness of police alone did not appear to have a significant effect on citizen crime reporting.
  • Citizens’ past victimization by crime did not increase their chances of reporting crime.
  • These results were found to be generalizable outside of the United States and possibly even outside developed nations.


In the article, “Examining Police Effectiveness as a Precursor to Legitimacy and Cooperation with Police,” Kochel and her co-authors examined the impact effective policing has on public trust in police and the probability of citizens reporting crimes. The authors conducted their research in Trinidad and Tobago and compared it to data from Ghana to determine if perceptions of police were able to be generalized outside of the United States and also in developing nations. The data collection involved face to face interviews with recent victims of burglary, robbery, and assault in Trinidad and Tobago. Kochel and her co-authors found that the data from Trinidad and Tobago is generalizable to Ghana and aligns with results from data in the US. They also found that individuals who have a sense of civic duty and trust that the police are fair will have the greatest probability of reporting crime. The data did not show that high perceptions of police effectiveness or a citizen’s past crime victimization impacted crime reporting.

View Full Research