Duty to Intervene

Duty to Intervene

Laws and policies are necessary to direct officers to intervene in situations of excessive force. Maintaining safety is achievable, but only if officers (a) have an explicit responsibility to intervene, (b) stop the excessive force, and (c) face severe consequences for failing to do so. It is clear that actionable, national-level policies are needed. Absent a standard, Americans, particularly historically marginalized groups, risk the severe threat of harm and even death, as many recent events happen. This is the second in a series of action briefs on police reform.

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Duty to Intervene
Duty to Intervene

Key Observations

  • The  duty  to  intervene  has  not  been  clearly  defined  as  a standard  practice  in  established  statutory or constitutional requirements
  • Less  than  50%  of  the  largest  100  law  enforcement  departments  have duty  to  intervene  policies. 
  • Officers in departments with more restrictive  duty  to  intervene  and  use  of  force  policies  are  less  likely  to  be  assaulted,  injured  or  killed on the job.
Duty to Intervene

Recommendations:

The CJR Solution: As state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other important stakeholders consider advancing police reform in their jurisdictions, CJR recommends the following:

  • Clarification and legal guidance on the Supreme Court standing and departmental policies on the duty to intervene.
  • The Department of Justice to create clear national standards establishing law enforcement officers’ duty to intervene.
  • The enforcement of disciplinary actions when officers and administrators fail to abide by duty to intervene standards/requirements.
  • The adoption of state and local laws/policies to ensure that every police officer and police agency understands the responsibility to intervene and stop the use of excessive and deadly force by fellow officers.
Duty to Intervene