Good cop, bad cop: communication accommodation, perception, and trust in law enforcement-suspect encounters
Since the 1980s, community policing has been embraced as the dominant police strategy. Thompson (1983) estimates that 97% of an officer's time is spent communicatively interacting with the public, which indicates a strong incentive to study how communication affects those involved in police interaction. Utilizing Communication Accommodation Theory as a theoretical framework, this study examines the relationship between communication accommodation, perception, and trust and poses the following question: How does a police officer's communication accommodation affect the communicative relationship between a police officer and his or her suspect? An online questionnaire was distributed to 257 students at a large, southeastern University, and their responses were analyzed. The data indicates that accommodative behavior can lead suspects to be more trusting of the police, but did not have a significant effect on police perception. Overall, this study helps fill a significant research gap in the police communication literature and provides pragmatic implications to improve the police-suspect interaction.