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Gau Wins Best Paper for Article on Police Legitimacy

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An editorial team for Police Practice and Research: An International Journal has selected a paper by Jacinta Gau, associate professor of criminal justice, to receive the Police Practice and Research Best Paper Award for 2015.

Her award-winning paper, titled "Procedural Justice, Police Legitimacy, and Legal Cynicism: A Test for Mediation Effects," is available at Police Practice and Research, 16(5), 402-415.

Gau examined the impact of cynicism toward the law on the relationship between procedural justice and police legitimacy.

She found that procedural justice, referring to law enforcement's treatment of people with respect and fairness, significantly reduces public cynicism toward the law. She also found that declines in cynicism toward the law promote the legitimacy of legal institutions.

In her discussion section, Gau reflected on the utility of her study to the police. 

"Research has documented that negative attitudes toward police are strongly tied to general alienation from other mainstream social institutions. The present study suggests that police might play an important role in bridging that divide and making people feel like valued members of society. When people believe that the police respect them, they may begin to feel less excluded from larger political and social processes. Thus, police should continue searching for the specific behaviors that embody the elements of justice and fairness that, ultimately, lead people to trust in and be more satisfied with the police."

The journal's editorial team selected Gau's paper as the winner from among five nominated papers. Read about the selection process

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