The American Law Institute’s membership voted today to approve Principles of the Law, Policing. The Policing Principles project began in 2015, and is the Institute’s first project in this critical area. Principles are primarily addressed to legislatures, administrative agencies, or private actors.

The project Reporter is Barry Friedman of New York University School of Law. The project’s Associate Reporters are Brandon L. Garrett of Duke University School of Law, Rachel A. Harmon of University of Virginia School of Law, Tracey L. Meares of Yale Law School, Maria Ponomarenko of University of Minnesota Law School, and Christopher Slobogin of Vanderbilt University Law School. Christy E. Lopez of Georgetown Law Center served at Project Fellow.

“This project provides the framework on which to build just and rational policing laws, policies, and practices,” explained ALI Director Richard L. Revesz. “Since this is a Principles project, rather than a Restatement, our goal is not to synthesize judicial precedent. Instead, the Reporters are working to develop best practices for issues concerning policing that have significant legal underpinnings. Our work is informed by a variety of sources, including existing policies and practices in various jurisdictions, social-science research, and constitutional norms. The audience for the project is broad, including legislatures, policing agencies, bodies that regulate or conduct oversight on policing, the public, and also, in some instances, the courts.”

The Policing Principles project has been approved by members in a series of Tentative Drafts at ALI Annual Meetings. With the approval of the 2022 draft, all 14 Chapters are complete. The Chapters are:

Chapter 1: General Principles of Sound Policing
Chapter 2: General Principles of Searches, Seizures, and Information Gathering
Chapter 3: Policing with Individualized Suspicion; Police Encounters
Chapter 4: Policing in the Absence of Individualized Suspicion
Chapter 5: Policing Databases
Chapter 6: Use of Force
Chapter 7: General Principles for Collecting and Preserving Reliable Evidence for the Adjudicative Process
Chapter 8: Forensic-Evidence Gathering
Chapter 9: Eyewitness Identifications; Police Questioning; Informants and Undercover Agents
Chapter 10: Promoting Sound Policing within Agencies
Chapter 11: Role of Other Actors in Promoting Sound Policing

“The goal of the project is to set out a series of principles, or best practices, for policing in the United States,” said project Reporter Barry Friedman. “We assembled these principles by gathering the knowledge and guidance from a wide range of stakeholders, speaking to all of the various sides of the questions we wanted to tackle. Our hope is that legislative bodies would think that these principles provide a good benchmark for sound policing, and that policing police agencies will feel they could and would adopt these practices and policies.”

These Principles already are having an impact in the world. Those that have been have already been approved by the ALI’s membership have been shared with legislators and additional policymakers. Some of the concepts in the Principles—around things like democratic governance, pretextual stops, use of force, and the like—already are being written into law. Said Friedman, “[t]he Reporters all are active in efforts to spread the word further, and these efforts will increase now that the project is completed.”

The first Principles to be approved by ALI’s membership were the Use of Force Principles approved at the 2017 Annual Meeting. Reporter Friedman, through the NYU Policing Project (of which he is the director), worked closely with the Camden County Police Department to establish a revised use of force policy, built largely from the ALI Principles. And the Policing Project has developed a model use of force statute, which is available on its website, and has been the basis for conversations with many legislators.

Friedman explained, “Like the Use of Force Principles found in the ALI project, 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.”

“This project is so useful and so practical because of the breadth of experiences of its Advisers,” said Director Revesz. “The group includes police chiefs and leaders of organizations that have expressed concern about policing practices, including those dealing with racial justice and civil liberties, as well as judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. As all close observers of the ALI’s work know, it takes a village to produce an ALI project. I am therefore very grateful to the team of Reporters and to the very dedicated Advisers and Members Consultative Group. At a time when our society appears unusually divided, observing individuals from very different walks of life approach very difficult issues civilly and constructively is a real privilege!” The full list of project Advisers and other participants can be viewed on the project page.

The Reporters, subject to oversight by the Director, will now prepare the Institute’s official text for publication. At this stage, the Reporters are authorized to correct and update citations and other references, to make editorial and stylistic improvements, and to implement any remaining substantive changes agreed to during discussion with the membership and Council, or by motions approved at the Annual Meeting. Until the official text is published, the draft approved by the membership and the Council is the official position of ALI, and may be cited as such.

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Barry Friedman

Reporter, Policing Principles

Barry Friedman is the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Politics at NYU Law.  He is one of the country’s leading authorities on constitutional law, policing, criminal procedure, and the federal courts. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (2009), and the forthcoming book on policing and the Constitution, Unwarranted: Policing without Permission(February 2017). He is the founding director of NYU Law’s Policing Project.

Brandon L. Garrett

Associate Reporter, Policing Principles

Brandon L. Garrett is the L. Neil Williams, Jr. Professor of Law  at Duke Law School. His research and teaching interests include criminal procedure, wrongful convictions, habeas corpus, corporate crime, scientific evidence, civil rights, civil procedure and constitutional law. Garrett’s recent research includes studies of DNA exonerations and organizational prosecutions. In addition to numerous articles published in leading law journals, he is the author of five books, including: The Death Penalty: Concepts and Insights (West Academic, 2018) (with Lee Kovarsky); and End of its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Rachel A. Harmon

Associate Reporter, Policing Principles

Rachel Harmon is the F.D.G Ribble Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.  She teaches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure and civil rights, and her scholarship focuses on policing and its regulation. From 1998 to 2006, Harmon served as a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice. After a brief stint at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, Harmon worked in the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, prosecuting hate crimes and official misconduct cases, many of which involved excessive force or sexual abuse by police officers.

Tracey L. Meares

Associate Reporter, Policing Principles

Tracey L. Meares is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She has worked extensively with the federal government, having served on the Committee on Law and Justice, a National Research Council Standing Committee of the National Academy of Sciences from 2004–2011. Additionally, she has served on two National Research Council Review Committees: one to review research on police policy and practices, which produced the book, Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence and another to review the National Institute of Justice, Strengthening the National Institute of Justice. In November of 2010, she was named by Attorney General Eric Holder to sit on the Department of Justice’s newly-created Science Advisory Board; and in December 2014, President Obama named her as a member of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Maria Ponomarenko

Associate Reporter, Policing Principles

Maria Ponomarenko is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. She teaches and writes in the areas administrative law, constitutional law, and criminal procedure. Her work focuses in particular on government agencies—such as policing agencies or other local regulatory agencies—that operate in domains that fall beyond the reach of traditional administrative law and scholarship. In addition to her work at the law school, Ponomarenko is co-founder and counsel at the Policing Project, a non-profit based at the NYU School of Law that works in tandem with policing agencies and community groups to promote more effective police governance.

Christopher Slobogin

Associate Reporter, Policing Principles

Christopher Slobogin is the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law; Director, Criminal Justice Program; and Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt Law School. He has authored more than 100 articles, books and chapters on topics relating to criminal law and procedure, mental health law and evidence, and is one of the five most cited criminal law and procedure professors in the country.  Particularly influential has been his work on the Fourth Amendment and technology and his writing on mental disability and criminal law.

Jennifer Morinigo

The American Law Institute

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