The Effects of Security Threats on Antecedents of Police Legitimacy

  • Tal Jonathan-Zamir
  • David Weisburd
  • Badi Hasisi


The legitimacy literature suggests that the strongest antecedent of police legitimacy are evaluations of “procedural justice,” or the fairness embedded in police processes and behavior, followed by assessments of police performance, which are concerned with police accomplishments. In this chapter we raise the question of applicability of these models to situations of acute security threats. Under threat, when the public is affected by uncertainty and fear, citizens may be more concerned with outcomes and less worried about fair processes. We use a natural experiment to examine and compare antecedents of police legitimacy across two groups of Israeli citizens, one facing immediate, severe, security threats (missile threats and attacks on the Israeli town of “Sderot”) and the other not facing acute threats at the time. The results indicate that when faced with acute missile threats, people in “Sderot” did value police performance more than in other Israeli communities, where there was no specific threat in the background. At the same time, under threat procedural justice did not decline in importance for the public. Moreover, in line with previous studies, in both situations procedural justice remained the primary predictor of police legitimacy.


Procedural Justice Police Performance Security Threat Gaza Strip Fair Process 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tal Jonathan-Zamir
    • 1
  • David Weisburd
    • 1
    • 2
  • Badi Hasisi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Criminology, Faculty of LawHebrew University of Jerusalem Mount ScopusJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Criminology, Law and SocietyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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