Civil Rights Division's Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present   [open pdf - 2MB]

"There are more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country. Law enforcement is a demanding, rigorous, and - at times - dangerous profession. The vast majority of men and women who police our communities do so with professionalism, respect, bravery, and integrity. But as we have seen around the country, when police departments engage in unconstitutional policing, their actions can severely undermine both community trust and public safety. Today, our country is engaged in a critically important conversation about community-police relations. This report describes one of the United States Department of Justice's central tools for accomplishing police reform, restoring police-community trust, and strengthening officer and public safety - the Civil Rights Division's enforcement of the civil prohibition on a 'pattern or practice' of policing that violates the Constitution or other federal laws (the Department's other tools are described later in this document). Pattern-or-practice cases begin with investigations of allegations of systemic police misconduct and, when the allegations are substantiated, end with comprehensive agreements designed to support constitutional and effective policing and restore trust between police and communities. The Division has opened 11 new pattern-or-practice investigations and negotiated 19 new reform agreements since 2012 alone, often with the substantial assistance of the local United States Attorney's Offices. The purpose of this report to make the Division's police reform work more accessible and transparent. The usual course of a pattern-or-practice case, with examples and explanations for why the Division approaches this work the way it does, is set forth in this report."

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