At ALI’s 2017 Annual Meeting, the Use of Force chapter from ALI’s Principles of the Law, Policing project was approved.* This Chapter contains best practices for police departments to follow concerning use of force in officers’ interactions with the public.

The need for clear policy on use of force has been evident for some time, but the need for guidance has become even more immediate now. Anyone interested in downloading the approved ALI Use of Force Principles may do so now.

The Use of Force Chapter includes Sections on Scope and Applicability of Principles; Objectives of the Use of Force; Minimum Force Necessary; De-escalation and Force Avoidance; Proportional Use of Force; Instructions and Warnings.

The Use of Force Principles have already been applied “in the field.” Barry Friedman (Reporter on the Policing Principles project and Director of NYU’s Policing Project) worked closely with the Camden County Police Department to establish a revised use of force policy, which was built largely from the ALI Principles.

Camden’s revised use of force policy goes beyond the Supreme Court’s minimal constitutional principles regarding use of force—that an officer may only use force that a reasonable officer would when facing similar circumstances—to clearly state that officers must do everything possible to respect and preserve the sanctity of all human life, avoid unnecessary uses of force, and minimize the force that is used, while still protecting themselves and the public.

Camden’s policy is consistent with national best practices on use of force, including de-escalation and force mitigation training that CCPD officers currently receive, and the “PERF 30” principles developed by the Police Executive Research Forum. The policy was also vetted by the ACLU of New Jersey and the Fraternal Order of Police.

In addition to Reporter Barry Friedman, the following are Associate Reporters on the Policing Principles Project: Brandon L. Garrett, Duke University School of Law; Rachel A. Harmon, University of Virginia School of Law;Tracey L. Meares, Yale Law School; Maria Ponomarenko, University of Minnesota Law School; Christopher Slobogin, Vanderbilt University Law School. Learn more about NYU’s Policing Project.

Learn more about NYU’s Policing Project.

*ALI is a bi-cameral body. In order for any portion of a project to be approved and considered the position on the Institute, the Sections must first be approved by ALI’s Council, then by the membership at an Annual Meeting. The Use of Force Principles were approved by both and may therefore be considered the position of the Institute.

Jennifer Morinigo

The American Law Institute


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