Principles of Procedurally Just Policing

85 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2020

See all articles by Megan Quattlebaum

Megan Quattlebaum

Yale Law School

Tracey L. Meares

Yale University - Law School

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: January 1, 2018


We believe that procedural justice can and should be integrated throughout the policies of a police department. In this document, we identify three key areas of department policymaking in which procedural justice principles should be incorporated:

Addressing transparency and public engagement. If police departments are only able to make one change to their current operating procedures, it should be this: departments should move toward a process for publishing and revising their general and special orders that incorporates procedural justice principles. Procedural justice is not a project or program to be completed, nor a goal to be achieved; it is a comprehensive change to the ways in which police departments do business and a constant work in progress.Departments that are committed to procedurally just policing should thus incorporate procedural justice principles into their decision-making processes on an ongoing basis. Departments should also commit themselves to an ethic of transparency in their interactions with their communities.

Addressing “internal” procedural justice in police departments. Research has found that the existence of procedural justice within police departments is central to implementing procedural justice externally. In short, officers who feel they are treated fairly by their departments are better able to implement policies that promote justice, and more readily communicate respect for members of the community. Thus, if departments wish to implement a procedural justice-based approach to policing their communities, it is essential for those departments to ensure that their internal policies treat officers with fairness and respect. Procedural justice principles should also be included in a department’s code of conduct or ethics policy.

Addressing “external” procedural justice in the community. In addition, procedural justice principles can be incorporated directly into policies governing how officers treat members of the community. This may include general interactions with community members as well as more particularized circumstances, such as investigatory stops.

Keywords: police, procedural justice

Suggested Citation

Quattlebaum, Megan and Meares, Tracey Louise and Tyler, Tom, Principles of Procedurally Just Policing (January 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Megan Quattlebaum (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Tracey Louise Meares

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-4074 (Phone)
203-432-4876 (Fax)

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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