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.
The CJR Solution: Develop policies clearly establishing law enforcement officers’ lawful duty to intervene when other officers use of force exceeds the parameters of lawful restraint protocols. It is our position that an officer’s duty to protect has seamless alignment with their obligation to intervene. Failure in either duty is an exercise of deliberate indifference, and therefore a constitutional violation resulting from police officer misconduct. In the charge to advance police reform at the state, local, and federal level, CJR calls for:
• 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.