White Papers

To broaden the reach and relevance of our legislative advocacy efforts, the National Police Accountability Project has produced white papers on issue areas we are focusing on each legislative session. These papers are intended for both policy makers and the public to provide a robust contextualization of both why we think these issue areas are critical in defending against police violence, and how to implement legislation that is effective and impactful. A selection of these papers are available below.

Use the fields below to filter by date published and/or legislative issue area.

Date Published

Reducing Law Enforcement's Footprint to Maximize Community Safety: Eliminating Police-Based Response to Low Level Traffic Violations and Mental Health Crises

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Tue, 02/06/2024 - 16:40

This white paper provides an overview of the harms that flow from relying on law enforcement for civil traffic violations and crisis intervention. These two arenas account for a significant portion of police-civilian contacts and, in turn, a significant portion of civilian deaths at the hands of police. In 2021 alone, police killed at least 1,140 people. 117 of those people were killed after police stopped them for a traffic violation, and 104 were killed after police responded to reports of erratic behavior or mental health crisis.

A Case for Eliminating Police K9 Units

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Wed, 01/17/2024 - 15:34

We must end the practice of using dogs in policing. At the very least, we must stop (1) training dogs tasked with bomb sniffing and search and rescue missions to bite; (2) using dogs for drug enforcement, arrest and apprehension, and cell extraction; and (3) criminalizing the natural human instinct to resist a dog attack. Every level of government can act on ending the use of dogs in policing or, in the alternative, restricting their use.

Reclaiming Public Safety: Ending Privatization of Jails and Policing

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Sat, 12/10/2022 - 15:58

Over the last decade there has been an increased public focus on creating civilian oversight of jails and civilian-led policies to improve the treatment of people who are detained awaiting trials. Similarly, how and when police officers can use force remains one of the most pressing public policy debates in American society today. Despite the immense public importance of corrections and policing practices, decisions about these issues are often not made by elected officials or public servants.

State Police Use of Force Legislation and Public Safety

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 17:02

Officers currently lack guidance about when force is necessary as well as what tactics and maneuvers are appropriate. The Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provide the only national standard for police officer use of force. The standard loosely authorizes force that is “reasonable under the totality of circumstances.” Most states have enacted use of force standards but few provide more guidance than the Supreme Court rule and an increasing number of state courts have incorporated the federal framework into state jurisprudence.

Lifting the Blue Veil of Silence: Legislative Proposals to Improve Transparency in Policing and Build Community Trust

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 17:01

Access to police misconduct records is necessary to protect the public and ensure accountability in a range of contexts. The contents of disciplinary records provide insight into an individual officer’s suitability to serve in law enforcement. Similarly, these records shed light on patterns of police misconduct and help ensure communities can evaluate whether law enforcement agencies are conducting fair investigations into citizen complaints. Unfortunately, confidentiality laws in many states prohibit disclosure of this valuable information.

Removing Hate From Policing: A Practical Guide For Law Enforcement Agencies

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 16:58

The prevalence of hate group affiliations in police departments has been well-documented by research organizations and governmental agencies for years. Despite knowledge of this persistent threat growing within their ranks, police departments continue to hire officers without conducting thorough checks for ties to hate groups, fail to create policies that prohibit officers from affiliating with hate groups, and only discipline or terminate officers if their affiliation with a hate group becomes public.

Law Enforcement Bill of Rights Statutes: How State Law Limitations Contribute to Police Harm and Community Distrust

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 16:56

Law enforcement bill of rights (LEOBR) laws provide officers with a robust set of procedural and substantive protections that undermine effective investigations and block meaningful discipline. LEOBR laws also interfere with attempts to hold police officers accountable through civil rights lawsuits and public pressure. Twenty-two states have LEOBR laws on the books. These protections were created by state lawmakers and can be repealed through the state legislative process. 

Expanding Pathways to Accountability: State Legislative Options to Remove the Barrier of Qualified Immunity

Submitted by Jane Clayton on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 16:51

In federal litigation, the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity shields officers from liability in lawsuits alleging constitutional violations because courts often require a plaintiff to point to a factually identical prior case.While there are many police accountability mechanisms in need of change, ensuring officers at least face civil liability for misconduct is critical to any reform effort. Lawsuits alone cannot end problematic policing tactics, eliminate racial bias in law enforcement agencies, or bring peace to the grieving families who lost a loved one to police violence.