Many, perhaps most, law enforcement officers in North Carolina are at will employees. As the saying goes, they may be fired for any reason or for no reason. But when such an officer is fired for malfeasance, and that reason is made public such that potential future employers may be aware of it, the officer may be entitled to a “name clearing hearing” at which he or she can dispute the basis for the termination.
Procedural justice and procedural fairness are terms that refer to the way legal authorities interact with the public and how those interactions shape the public’s view of those authorities. I first learned of this framework for evaluating those interactions in connection with my work with court officials. Researchers have determined that people’s assessments of their experiences in the court system are influenced more by how they are treated and how their cases are handled than by whether they win or lose. It turns out that the same principles apply to the public’s perception of law enforcement officers. And a perception of procedural justice may increase the public’s compliance with the law and their willingness to cooperate with officers.