Baćak, V. & Apel, R. (2021). Police fairness and legitimacy across the post-communist divide in Europe. Law & Society Review, 55(3), 473-495.
In the present study, we compared two European regions with deeply contrasting policing traditions—post-communist countries and established democracies—to explore whether political history may have long-term consequences for police–public interactions. Using data from 26 countries that participated in the 2010 European Social Survey, we first measured and compared the prevalence of police-initiated contact and satisfaction with contact once it took place. We found that both tended to be higher in established democracies. Next, we contrasted the magnitude of the association between police contact and attitudes about police fairness and legitimacy between the two regions, finding consistently stronger associations in post-communist countries. Taken together, our results help expand procedural justice theory by demonstrating that incorporating history and context can enhance its ability to explain how interactions with police shape public opinion about law enforcement.