Critical moments in police-citizen reconciliation

Stronks, S. & Adang, O. M. J., 2015, In : Policing-An international journal of police strategies & management. 38, 2, p. 366-380 15 p.

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  • Critical moments in police-citizen reconciliation

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyze the interaction of police and citizen representatives during critical moments in reconciliation processes through a relational model.

Design/methodology/approach - Based on 26 in-depth interviews with key actors in three different cases of media-salient police-citizen group conflict, the interactions in the run-up to, during and after five moments that were critical in the transformation from conflict to cooperation, were analyzed. In focussing on the role of the intergroup relationship in conflict interaction, the applicability of relationship-value, compatibility and security in defining this relationship were explored.

Findings - Although interactions during critical moments differed along the specific conflict contexts, three chronological stages could be deduced. In the first stage, interactions were tensed and emotional. During the second stage, repressing this insecurity through the exchange of value and compatibility signals was important. In the third stage, the transformation toward friendlier, cooperative dialogue and a less tensed atmosphere was made. Emotional expression, information sharing and emphasizing compatibility seemed particularly important in (re) defining and negotiating police-citizen relationships.

Research limitations/implications - In analysis, the authors had to rely on limited and retrospective accounts of interactions and attitudes and its indivertible errors.

Originality/value - This is one of very few studies that analyses police-involved post conflict interactions with a relational model. With regard to the importance of strong police-citizen relationships, the results should be of value to any operational police worker and specifically those who are involved in operational or strategic conflict-management and communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-380
Number of pages15
JournalPolicing-An international journal of police strategies & management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Restoration, Police, Conflict transformation, Critical moments, Reconciliation, Relationship maintenance, RELATIONSHIP QUALITY, PAN-TROGLODYTES, NEGOTIATION, CHIMPANZEES, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY

ID: 33203417