Reforming the police through procedural justice training: A multicity randomized trial at crime hot spots

David Weisburd*, Cody W. Telep, Heather Vovak, Taryn Zastrow, Anthony A. Braga, Brandon Turchan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Can police be trained to treat people in fair and respectful ways, and if so, will this influence evaluations of the police and crime? To answer these questions, we randomly allocated 120 crime hot spots to a procedural justice (PJ) and standard condition (SC) in three cities. Twenty-eight officers were randomly assigned to the conditions. The PJ condition officers received an intensive 5-d training course in the components of PJ (giving voice, showing neutrality, treating people with respect, and evidencing trustworthy motives). We used police self-report surveys to assess whether the training influenced attitudes, systematic social observations to examine impacts on police behavior in the field, and arrests to assess law enforcement actions. We conducted pre and post household surveys to assess resident attitudes toward the police. Impacts on crime were measured using crime incident and citizen-initiated crime call data. The training led to increased knowledge about PJ and more procedurally just behavior in the field as compared with the SC condition. At the same time, PJ officers made many fewer arrests than SC officers. Residents of the PJ hot spots were significantly less likely to perceive police as harassing or using unnecessary force, though we did not find significant differences between the PJ and SC hot spots in perceptions of PJ and police legitimacy. We found a significant relative 14% decline in crime incidents in the PJ hot spots during the experiment.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2118780119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Competing interest statement: D.W. was the chair of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Proactive Policing, which concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding the impacts of procedural justice policing on community outcomes or crime. Funding was provided by Arnold Ventures in a grant to the National Policing Institute (formerly the National Police Foundation). Principal Investigator: D.W.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 the Author(s).


  • hot spots policing
  • police training
  • procedural justice
  • randomized controlled trial


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