Brian Renauer – Research Spotlight
Listen to Dr. Renauer as he discusses his focus on public perceptions of police legitimacy and trust in police.
0:08 The goal of my research would be to kind of stimulate policy or strategies or programs to address public opinions um about the criminal justice system. I’ve done a variety of public opinion research studies in the past five to six years and what has sparked my interest most is the concept of government legitimacy.
0:48 One of the studies that I have been doing focuses on public perceptions of police legitimacy and public perceptions of trust in police that they are not using race or ethnicity unfairly in making decisions about who to stop or who to arrest or who to search. Where my research has really gone is try to understand public perceptions of the system. Where there is inconsistencies. Where there is problems. Understand what forms those perceptions and try to develop some strategies to try to improve that. Perceptions are formed through we call vicarious sources which is the media, family, friends, neighbors who have their own opinions, their own stories about how the criminal justice system operates or government operates. How do we combat those potential negative images that are influencing people’s perceptions of criminal justice actors I think is critical. Those perceptions can be improved by having positive police experiences. It is not just that people often distrust the police they are also distrusting government in general. So I think the problem is a lot wider and a lot deeper than we might think.
2:32 Part of the solution is making sure when police interact with the community that they are doing so in the most professional manner. The other part gets to a much bigger effort to really bring government closer to the citizens.