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Political legitimacy and public confidence in police: An analysis of attitudes toward Mexican police

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Purpose ‐ This study attempts to determine how political legitimacy and regime change affect the level of public confidence in the Mexican police. The current study also aims to examine to what extent socioeconomic and attitudinal factors are associated with levels of police confidence among Mexican citizens. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The data used in this study were obtained from two Mexican surveys conducted as part of the World Value Surveys (WVS) in 1996 and 2005. Owing to the nature of the dependent variable, a series of ordinal logistic regression analyses was employed to examine the effects of political legitimacy, regime change, attitudinal, and socioeconomic factors on public confidence in the Mexican police while controlling other relevant factors. Findings ‐ Consistent with prior research, results confirmed that public confidence in the police was positively associated with political legitimacy (i.e. support for regime institutions and system support), happiness, life satisfaction, marital status, and religious activity. Yet, age, education, and size of the town were negatively related to public confidence. Research limitations/implications ‐ Since the current study used secondary data, the availability of information was limited. Only one nation was studied which limits the generalizability of the findings. Future research may attempt to study other Latin-American nations, including Mexico, in order to address the issue of public confidence in policing on a greater scale. Further, as the police alone cannot take full credit in the public's perception of law enforcement, it is imperative that future studies also examine other government agencies (i.e. courts, prosecutors) that may lend more information on this subject. Originality/value ‐ While the police and some governing agencies may not be able to change most of the factors studied in this research, they can strive to cultivate better trust among the citizenry and seek to improve quality of life in neighborhoods which may lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction factors that may then increase the level of confidence in the police.
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Keywords: Attitudes to the police; Mexican police; Mexico; Police; Policing; Political legitimacy; Public confidence; Public perceptions

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 02 March 2012

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