This report was originally published by the Policing Project at New York University School of Law on Dec. 17, 2020. 

The challenge of ensuring that policing is sound—which is to say, effective, non-discriminatory, fair, minimally harmful, and democratically accountable—is enormous. Achieving this goal fully will require legislation and long-term policy development. That said, there are critical and immediate steps the new Administration can and should take.

The Policing Project at New York University School of Law, and the Center for Criminal Justice at the University of Virginia School of Law have released clear and actionable recommendations the new Administration can pursue as part of a national commitment to sound policing, largely by taking a regulatory approach to national policing policy.

In offering these recommendations, we do not aim to be comprehensive. Others have suggested important directions. We recognize in particular the importance of re-invigorating pattern or practice investigations and litigation by the Civil Rights Division, as well as collaborative reform efforts by the Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) Office. These are enforcement or quasi-enforcement approaches. Here, as we say, are immediate regulatory steps the Administration can take to improve American policing.

The Policing Project at New York University School of Law is a non-profit organization that partners with communities and police to promote public safety through transparency, equity, and democratic engagement. Founded in 2015 by Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Politics at NYU Law and author of Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission, the Policing Project focuses on front-end, or democratic, accountability—ensuring the public has a voice in setting transparent, ethical, and effective policing policies and practices before the police or government act.

The Center for Criminal Justice Reform serves as a hub for scholarship and activities involving criminal law guided by the nation’s leading criminal law faculty. The Center for Criminal Justice Reform is led by Director Rachel Harmon, the Class of 1957 Research Professor of Law. She is a leading scholar on policing and the laws that regulate police behavior. Her casebook, The Law of the Police, is the first resource for those seeking to understand, evaluate, and reform American law governing police interactions with the public.

Download the resources here

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ALI Staff

The American Law Institute

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