The Department of Justice Announces Standards for Certifying Safe Policing Practices by Law Enforcement Agencies

Today, the Department of Justice announced Standards for Certification that will be used by credentialing bodies so they can begin certifying thousands of law enforcement agencies over the next three months. The Standards of Certification are a result of President Trump’s June Executive Order 13929, Safe Policing for Safe Communities.

 “The fundamental responsibility of government is to keep its citizens safe and today’s action to certify thousands of law enforcement agencies around the country will further enable us to do just that,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “President Trump’s Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities affirms this administration’s commitment to protecting the American people. Furthermore, everyone loses when trust erodes between the community and law enforcement. That is why the Department of Justice has worked tirelessly to implement the President’s Executive Order in order to improve accountability, build trust, and ensure the safety of the public as well as members of law enforcement who risk their lives every day.”  

Executive Order 13929 requires that all state, local, and university law enforcement agencies be certified by independent credentialing agencies. The President’s Order requires agencies to meet two standards in order to be successfully credentialed: 1) that the agency’s use of force policies prohibit chokeholds, except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law; and 2) that the agency’s use of force policies adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Over the next 90 days, at least 3,000 law enforcement agencies will be certified by independent credentialing agencies. These agencies will conduct independent reviews of law enforcement policies and procedures, which, in turn, will ensure accountability, enhance citizen confidence and trust in law enforcement, and help correct internal issues before they result in injury to the public or to law enforcement officers.

The Department’s certification standards encourage an independent assessment of law enforcement policies and procedures, such as: 1) training protocols on use of force; 2) training protocols on de-escalation; 3) the scope of an officer’s duty and obligation to intervene in order to prevent excessive force by another officer; 4) when and how an officer should provide appropriate medical care; 5) officers identifying themselves as law enforcement and giving verbal warning of their intent to use deadly force; and 6) shooting at or from a moving vehicle. Additionally, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to implement early intervention systems to promote officer wellness and to identify officers who may be at risk of violating use of force policies, policies and procedures to help them recruit and promote the best and brightest, and community engagement plans to address each community’s specific needs.

Since the Executive Order was announced in June, the major stakeholders in law enforcement have been kept apprised of the implementation process, have reviewed the Safe Principles document, and many have endorsed their adoption. These principles provide for more accountability, transparency, and community engagement and will foster community trust, all critical elements in keeping both the public and law enforcement officers safe.

To learn more about Executive Order 13929, please see the interview with Assistant to the President Ja’Ron Smith and Attorney General William P. Barr.

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Author: October 28, 2020

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