Changing the Law to Change Policing: First Steps

Today, the Center for Science and Justice joins the Policing Project at NYU Law, the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law,  the Innovative Policing Program at Georgetown Law School, the Criminal Justice Program, Vanderbilt University, and Center for Criminal Justice at the University of Virginia School of Law in a new report: Changing the Law to Change Policing: First Steps.  An introduction:

Recent events have brought to the fore longstanding concerns about the nature of policing in the United States and how it undermines racial equity. As an institution, policing needs significant reconsideration. It is time to rethink the structure and governance of policing. It is also time to engage in a deeper conversation about the meaning of public safety. In the meantime, however, the following is a list of urgently-needed reforms, compiled by a small group of law school faculty, each of whom runs or is associated with an academic center devoted to policing and the criminal justice system. The reforms are not intended as an entire agenda for what ought to happen around policing, or what American policing should look like. Rather, they offer immediate, concrete steps federal, state, and local governments can take to address enduring problems in policing. The authors are scholars who are also deeply involved in the daily practice of policing, and included among them are the Reporters for the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law: Policing, which works with advisers from across the ideological spectrum in drafting high-level principles to govern policing.

We describe the need for these Federal Level Reforms :

Enforcing Constitutional Rights and Ensuring Adequate Remedies for Constitutional Violations

Regulating Specific Policies or Practices

Promoting Uniform Standards, Recordkeeping, and Information Sharing

Institutional Reforms 3 Regulation of Federal Policing Agencies


Substantive legislation on specific police policies and practices

State-Level Institutional Reform

Data and Transparency

Substantive Criminal Law and Enforcement Discretion


Accountability Systems


Municipal and County Codes