Why Doesn’t Everyone Trust the Police?

For police, legitimacy is crucial: it means that citizens are more likely to comply with orders, report crimes, act as witnesses, assist in investigations and support police power. But, like a teacher on the first day of school, police only acquire a limited amount of respect from their title alone. The rest can be earned through their actions.

The War on Citizens

Through the 1980s and 1990s, federal and state governments increased sentences, limited parole, expanded the War on Drugs, and militarized the police. The predominant attitude, held by both conservatives and liberals, was that criminals and addicts were an enemy who needed punishment instead of rehabilitation.