This paper presents the results of an action research with a Brussels’ police force. This research aimed to identify elements or mechanisms within police selectivity that put pressure on the relationship between the public and the police and affect the equal treatment of individuals and groups. Montjardet (1996) looks to understand structural, organisational of other factors as weighing on police selectivity. This article focusses more precisely on the interaction between organisational justice on striving to improve procedural justice.
This study was made possible through a partnership between UNIA, the PolBruNo police force and the National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC). The methodology of this two-year action research around two phases. The first one led through (22) interviews with management, (200 h of) observations and three group analysis to a shared diagnosis of problems regarding police selectivity. The action part centered on intervisions with the patrol officers based during further (over 420 h of) observations, giving extra information that has been integrated in the analysis.
This research points out that even when police interventions are oriented by the demands of the public – public that sometimes formulates demands based on (ethnic) stereotypes – the intervention can be problematic. Organisational aspects played an important role in how the intervention unfolded: if those demands will be treated rather as orders given by the caller or as problematic situations needing analysis by the police officers. The paper arguments that organisational justice as experienced by the police officers impact how much consideration will be given to procedural justice.
Many scholars have shed a light on the various situations patrol officers deal with and identified problems regarding police selectivity. Procedural justice was developed as an interesting notion to look at the relation of police officers and the (diverse groups within the) public as well as the broader impact of these encounters. The importance to look to the organisational level in the decisions made by the police officers has also been established. The paper arguments that organisational justice as experienced by the police officers impact how much consideration will be given to procedural justice.