Establishing the Rule of Law in Weak and War-Torn States: Evidence from a Field Experiment with the Liberian National Police
78 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 3, 2018
How to restore citizens' trust and cooperation with the police in the wake of civil war? We report results from an experimental evaluation of the Liberian National Police's (LNP) "Confidence Patrols" program, which deployed teams of newly-retrained, better-equipped police officers on recurring patrols to rural communities across three Liberian counties over a period of 14 months. We find that the program increased knowledge of the police and Liberian law; enhanced security of property rights; reduced the incidence of some types of crime, notably simple assault and domestic violence; and increased reporting of felony offenses to the LNP. The program did not, however, increase trust in the police, courts, or government more generally. The effects on crime reporting are concentrated almost entirely among residents who are disadvantaged under customary mechanisms of dispute resolution. We consider implications of these findings for post-conflict policing in Liberia and weak and war-torn states more generally.
Keywords: police, security sector reform, rule of law, post-conflict reconstruction, Africa, field experiments
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