Statement on Statewide Use of Force Policy Legislation

Monday, May 22, 2017

We are witnessing a moment of national attention on policing, from discussions about racial profiling, over-reliance on police to solve social, educational, and public health issues, and widespread examples of excessive uses of force.  Dramatic incidents of fatal force against people of color have been captured on video, shining a light on long-standing problems, most notably the confrontational and racially-biased approach too many law enforcement officers take towards the communities of color they are entrusted to serve.  This crisis can only be improved through the articulation and implementation of transformative police practice reforms, embodying a bold vision of humane, equitable, and constitutional policing in our society—a vision where police departments nationwide reconceive their role not as warriors who occupy communities but as guardians who are part of neighborhoods they safeguard. Under this vision, police protect everyone’s civil liberties and safety, and operate as members of transparent organizations fully accountable to the communities they serve. 

We are happy to support the effort to begin to standardize use-of-force policies for police departments across the state and enshrine the values our communities hold: to prioritize deescalation and only use deadly force as a last resort.  LRB-1454 is a good step in this direction.