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Final Report on Presidents Task Force Essay

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Final Report of President’s Task Force: Key Points in Building Trust and Legitimacy

Key Points

The key points of Pillar One of the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015) are that 1) People are more likely to obey the law when they see that those who enforce it follow the law as well and thus have the legitimate authority to enforce it; 2) trust and confidence play an important part in developing relations between officers and members of the community; 3) appreciating diversity is instrumental in promoting community relations; and 4) a democratic approach to leadership can help cultivate a more integrated and cohesive police department, which in turn can help to promote systematically the values that the department wants to implement.

The report recommends several action items; however, the most important of them have to do with the integrity and legitimacy of law enforcement officers; the need for community members to be able to trust police officers; the benefits that respect for diversity brings; and the value of having an integrated police department. Each of these can help to build a police department’s rapport with a community because each, ultimately, is focused the idea of serving. The police are there to serve and protect communities, and the service part is often forgotten with the modern trend of militarization of police departments. The idea and concept of service thus has to be reinstituted in order for the community to accept the police in the capacity of an organization that serves and protects—and each of the key points of Pillar One is orientated towards restoring that acceptance.

Role that Trust Plays

Trust plays a significant role inside a police department in terms of maintaining order within the unit and order outside the unit within the community. A police department must exude orderliness and commitment to the rule of law. It is often the case that communities distrust police because they see police officers as being above the law: they might see officers speeding while others obey the speed limit; they might suspect the law itself in all its incarnations, such as the “terry frisk” or rules regarding wearing seat belts. They might see what they take as a police state growing around them, which can fuel resentment and uneasiness.

When a police department focuses on building trust by showing that it legitimately cares about the community’s concerns and needs and does what it can to reduce the risk of bias within its ranks, it demonstrates to the community that the department is not out to abuse the law or to oppress members of the community. Trust conveys the sense the police are going to hold themselves accountable just like they do citizens. Confidence, satisfaction and…

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…tied to trust and legitimacy in a police department. The police have a duty to serve and protect regardless of the demographics of a community. The system of duty ethics says that action is moral insofar as it conforms to one’s duty. For the police, the moral action therefore is to serve and protect all in their jurisdiction under the law. It would be unethical for a police department to establish itself as an occupying force as though it were there to rule rather than to serve, to harm rather than to protect. The ethical aspect of building trust and establishing legitimacy is oriented therefore to the idea of duty ethics.

Police Discretion

The ethics of policing is also tied to decision-making and the proper use of authority (Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). Police have a responsibility to make good and moral use of their authority, to reflect the values of the community in their decision-making, and to uphold the law in fairness and justice. However, police must be mindful that just because certain actions on their part are permitted by policy it does not always mean police should exercise those powers. There are moments when restraint, compassion, empathy and sympathy can go a long way to building trust and establishing legitimacy. The letter of the law is not what makes a community thrive, after all;…

Sample Source(s) Used


Cao, L. (2015). Differentiating confidence in the police, trust in the police, and satisfaction with the police. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 38(2), 239-249.

Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. (2015). Retrieved from

Peak, K. J., & Glensor, R. W. (1999). Community policing and problem solving: Strategies and practices. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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