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Born of the Troubles: Lessons in Trust and Legitimacy from the Police Service of Northern Ireland

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Trust and the establishment of legitimacy are essential to building strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Distrust of the police can lead to a lack of community involvement and, in some cases, a perception of the police as an occupying force. American policing has faced recent challenges regarding trust, legitimacy, and accountability resulting in calls for police reform. This thesis answers the question of whether the police reforms outlined in the Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, or the Patten Reportfor the purposes of establishing trust and legitimacy and implemented in Northern Irelandare applicable as a possible model for American policing. This thesis provides a qualitative analysis of the Patten Report and its reforms as well as the Police Service of Northern Irelands implementation of recommendations. An appreciative inquiry approach was used to examine application to American policing and comparison to The Final Report of the Presidents Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The conclusion is that the Patten Report provides a model for policy makers in the United States. Application of lessons learned from Northern Ireland and the Patten Report will enhance American policings ability to build trust, legitimacy, and strengthen this nations homeland security.

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  • Sociology and Law

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