Return to flip book view

FOP Policy Paper on Law Enforcement Reform

Page 1

2021Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformNational Fraternal Order of

Page 2

The Fraternal Order of Police has long been a leader in law enforcement reform at the local, State and Federal level. We played a leadership role in building support for the First Step Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation aimed to improve criminal justice outcomes. This effort started as a sincere, bipartisan effort and resulted in a legislative victory that improved our nation’s criminal justice system.This paper is a reiteration of the approach the FOP took on policing reform in the summer of 2020. We rejected extreme provisions like ending qualified immunity, and worked to build consensus around data collection, accreditation of local and State agencies, expansion of body-worn cameras and improved de-escalation training. We must also acknowledge that policing is inherently a locally-controlled activity. There are more than 18,000 individual local and State law enforcement agencies that answer to local and State governments. The Federal government cannot impose unfunded mandates without violating the Constitution, so Federal efforts to make changes at the local level are limited to using Federal grants as incentives or penalties to achieve the desired outcome. When federal grants meant to provide vital law enforcement assistance to cities, counties, and states are withheld, public safety in impacted locales inevitably suffers. The federal government cannot abdicate its responsibility to provide for the safety and security of our citizens.2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformNational Fraternal Order of

Page 3

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformUnder the doctrine of qualified immunity, government officials, performing discretionary functions—like a law enforcement officer making an arrest—are immune from civil suit unless a plaintiff can show that the official violated clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person or officer would have known. It is important to emphasize that this immunity is not automatic and does not protect anyone who engages in a criminal act. It exists only for civil suits and is only available if granted by a court.Qualified immunity is critical to law enforcement as it protects the ability of officers to make split-second decisions in response to any incident. Ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers would effectively end community-oriented policing, which is the cornerstone of our nation’s public safety strategy. Community-oriented policing depends on regular interaction and communication with members of the community. If qualified immunity ends, it may well have a chilling effect on the kind of appropriately aggressive policing which played such a critical role in the dramatic reduction of the violent crime rate from the mid-90s to approximately 2010.The FOP supports the existing qualified immunity doctrine.Qualified ImmunityNational Fraternal Order of

Page 4

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformThe FOP, along with ten other major law enforcement agencies, spent nearly two years developing a National Consensus Policy on the Use of Force and we have been encouraging its adoption since its publication in early 2017. In the National Consensus Policy, chokeholds are prohibited in any situation except when deadly force is authorized. The FOP supports prohibiting chokeholds except when deadly force is authorized.USE OF FORCEThe 11 supporting organizations include:• Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies• Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies• Fraternal Order of Police• Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association• International Association of Chiefs of Police• Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association• International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training• National Association of Police Organizations• National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives• National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives• National Tactical Officers Association Fraternal Order of

Page 5

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformThe collection and analysis of data is critical to law enforcement because it guides the decision-making process with respect to deploying police assets, identifying potential problems, and improving public and officer safety. There are many local and State law enforcement agencies that engage in robust data collection for their own use. Federal efforts to incentivize data collection from local and State agencies should ensure that these collection efforts are measured, necessary, and appropriate. They must protect privacy, particularly of individual officers and victims, as well as the due process rights of officers. To reduce the burden of local and State agencies, the U.S. Department of Justice should ensure that it constructs an efficient means to receive these reports and fund any expenses associated with its collection and reporting mechanisms.The FOP supports the data collection provisions which would encourage State and local agencies to report any use of force incident that results in death or serious bodily injury to a civilian or law enforcement officer, as well as on the use of “no-knock” warrants. DATA COLLECTIONAND REPORTINGNational Fraternal Order of

Page 6

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformThe FOP finds the use of body-worn cameras to have a law enforcement and transparency benefit.The FOP supports the establishment of a Body-Worn Camera Partnership grant program in the model of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program.EXPANDING THE USE OF BODYWORN CAMERASNational Fraternal Order of

Page 7

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformAlaw enforcement agency with proper hiring protocols that conducts rigorous background checks on potential hires would find little utility in the establishment of a Federally-managed database of terminated or decertified officers. However, if such a database is established and maintained, the due process rights of officers must be clearly established to ensure accuracy and protect the reputation of the officers. The decision to hire, fire, discipline and promote officers lays with law enforcement executives. Law enforcement executives should keep and retain records on the officers they employ, however, access to these records should be restricted to the agency keeping the record, the officer to whom the record belongs, and to any law enforcement agency seeking to hire that officer. The FOP supports tracking terminations, criminal convictions, and civil judgments against law enforcement officers for excessive use of force. The FOP also supports retention of officer disciplinary records. Law Enforcement Records & registry of terminated officersNational Fraternal Order of

Page 8

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformState and local agencies need greater access to training, particularly in the areas of alternatives to use of force, de-escalation, implicit bias, and cultural sensitivity. These strategies are key to successful community-oriented policing. Independent accreditation efforts to achieve greater uniformity across the 18,000 individual jurisdictions may benefit policing as a whole, provided that agencies with fewer resources are not penalized.The FOP supports greater access to training on use of force with the National Consensus Policy on the Use of Force, as well as alternatives to use of force, de-escalation, implicit bias, and cultural sensitivity. The FOP supports the concept of developing a national accreditation process.Expanding training and accreditationNational Fraternal Order of

Page 9

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformThe FOP has long supported programs like the 1033 program, which is a surplus equipment program administered by the Defense Logistics Agencies (DLA) and the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). No Administration has produced any data or even conducted any studies to support the theory that State and local law enforcement agencies are misusing equipment obtained through these surplus equipment programs. The FOP supports the 1033 program and similar surplus equipment grant programs.1033 program and other surplus equipment programNational Fraternal Order of

Page 10

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformThe need to restore trust and respect in local and State law enforcement is vital. There also needs to be trust and transparency when there are allegations of misconduct which result in death or serious bodily injury. There needs to be confidence in due process, the integrity of the investigation and a fair and just resolution. In some jurisdictions, this may be best achieved by using agreements—memorandums of understanding—with other law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of misconduct which result in death or serious bodily injury. This could provide greater transparency and public confidence in the process and outcome.The FOP would support, in many circumstances, expanded use of memorandums of understanding with other law enforcement agencies for the purposes of investigating allegations of misconduct which result in death or serious bodily injury.Investigating allegations of misconductNational Fraternal Order of

Page 11

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformIn too many of our communities, law enforcement is the only social service available for individuals experiencing mental illness, a substance abuse disorder, or homelessness. Law enforcement would very much welcome the expansion of social services in our communities, especially in these areas, , but these expansions cannot be funded at the expense of public safety by reducing law enforcement budgets. It is also important to recognize, however, that while police often filled the gap in the need for social services, the reverse is not true. Social workers and mental health counselors cannot investigate crimes or make arrests, nor are they trained or equipped to handle a call for service which escalates into violence. The FOP opposes “defunding the police,” but supports programs which would increase the capacity of social workers to work directly with law enforcement agencies through the development and implementation of co-responder programs, which involve social workers or other mental health professionals working alongside law enforcement officers.Defunding the policeNational Fraternal Order of

Page 12

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformAbout the national fraternal order of policeNational Fraternal Order of PoliceThe FOP is the oldest and largest law enforcement labor organization in the world. Pittsburgh Police Officers Martin Toole and Delbert Nagle founded the Fraternal Order of Police in 1915 to fight for the rights of their fellow officers and to improve the safety of all communities for all citizens. Today, the FOP has more than 2,200 local lodges and over 356,000 members nationwide and we continue to fight for our members in city halls across the country and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.We are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities. We are committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those we serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation. No one knows the dangers and the difficulties faced by today's police officers better than another officer, and no one knows police officers better than the

Page 13

2021 Policy Paper on Law Enforcement ReformWashington, DC Office328 Massachusetts Ave. NEWashington, DC 20002202-547-8189 Phone202) 547-8190 Faxlegislative@fop.netNational Fraternal Order of policeNational Fraternal Order of